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Leif M. Wright is author of true crime thriller Deadly Vows
and gritty murder mystery novel
Minister of Justice.

I'm going to do a bit of bragging for a second, but it's bragging with a purpose:

When I started my online newspaper seven years ago, I had zero readers. The newspaper that had fired me a day earlier had around 12,000 daily readers - down from 25,000 in its heyday, when I was a managing editor and my friend Kristi Fry was the executive editor.

I hammered away and routinely beat the newspaper and its large staff to breaking news stories, day after day after day. Me, one guy with a web site, against them, a huge corporation with a full staff. I beat them. Consistently. Day after day.

Today, all that hard work paid off. My news site gets an average of 45,000 daily readers, almost double what the newspaper had at its very largest. Their circulation, in the meantime, has dipped below 9,000. My little web site has five times the daily readership their fully-staffed newspaper has. OK. That's the end of the bragging.

But that got me thinking. In Oklahoma, there's a law that describes what is a "legal" newspaper - a publication that prints on paper and delivers at least a portion of those dead trees through the mail for a period of something like two or three years.

Even though my online newspaper is well-established as the go-to source of news for my area, and even though a demonstrable majority of readers get their news from my site instead of the print newspaper, my news source isn't legally a newspaper in Oklahoma. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but a significant portion of newspapers' revenue comes from printing legal notices - notices that are required by courts to be published in the county the court is in, informing people of legal actions that may affect them.

Currently, to read legal notices, people in our county must buy the newspaper - a newspaper that only 9,000 people per day are buying. That means the vast majority of readers in our county NEVER see the legal notices that may be affecting them.

So I proposed a bill to my state representative that would modernize Oklahoma's law, allowing a news source with a demonstrable readership and longevity to be recognized as a legal newspaper - and thus able to compete in an open marketplace to display legal ads to the majority of county residents who read my site as opposed to the print paper.

The newspapers' lobbying group - the misnamed Oklahoma Press Association - dug in with both heels and killed the bill, saying they had no guarantees that legal notices wouldn't be changed after they were published. Even though there is technology in place to assure that didn't happen.

So it looks like we'll have to re-propose the bill next session, this time with examples to knock down their objections. But the point is this: they're doing their best to use the legal system to ensure Oklahoma stays buried in the dark ages and their dying metaphor - ink on paper every day - stays alive well past its expiration date.

I never thought this day would come. As the battles over the years had raged on for days at a time, as I watched my friends and enemies fall, the bitter winters stealing our toes, the blazing summers baking us from above, I thought we would never reach this place, this wonderful, magical, glorious place.

It was all worth it.

I now present to you the greatest example of copspeak in the history of the world:

Damn them for not waking up for the children to caught the bus. Luckily, the niece had awake and gone to the couple bedroom. Later, she was asked to wake up Paul, because he was was still asleep. Amber, of course, started spitting on Paul while he sit on the couch.

But the worst insult, the coup de gras, if you will, is when Paul split a plate of food on Amber. I have never tried to split a plate, but I assume it's difficult to do, to make sure the plate doesn't break, but splits. Amber, however, wasn't impressed.

She, unappreciative of plate splitting skill, spat on poor Paul again. Then, Paul, had had enough:

"You keep telling people in hit your, you're a lying so why don't I actually do it?"

And then he struck her. Choked her, slapped her.

And that's when Detective Swim had arrived spoke with Amber and Paul at the scene, where he ostensibly had already arrived. And it was discovered that there were possibly a domestic charge pre-existing from this otherwise perfect couple.

I know I'm making fun of an otherwise incredibly sad situation, but if you're the couple or the children involved, don't you kind of want the cop writing the report to be moderately literate? Maybe that's just me.

I started out thinking The Magicians was Harry Potter for American college kids. But I was wrong. The series follows the lives of young adults who have been recruited into a secret college where they learn magic - so you can see the connection with the Harry Potter world.

And, of course, there's a big, bad villain who people don't talk about. So there's that, too.

But it turns out the show is really about growing up, feeling alone, feeling inadequate, knowing everyone else knows more than you, is better than you, and there's something to resonate with viewers if I've ever heard it.

And tonight's episode completely broke the Potter mold - the main protagonist woke up to find himself in a mental hospital where everyone, including his best friend, was doing everything they could to convince him he's crazy and there is no magic school.

I think I'm turning into a fan of the show. Add that to The Expanse, and I barely miss any of my regular shows.

Nothing shuts up a bunch of bragging like shutting down a ballyhooed offense. Wade Phillips' Denver Broncos defense did that tonight in dominating fashion. Everywhere the Carolina Panthers went, there were Broncos, slamming them into the ground, swatting down passes, hammering them, beating the will to win right out of them.

But I'm not going to do a Super Bowl recap. Instead, I'm going to say, Lady Gaga. HOLY SHIT.

The woman can sing. And not only that, she kept it almost traditional, singing the melody straightforward with only a few glisses and arpeggios here and there. The result was magical: an anthem worthy of the 50th celebration of America's sport.

Peyton Manning will never be John Elway, but he did an appreciable job making sure the defense was the star of the game - the way the team was built to play. There's something to be said for restraint, and Manning showed it. Overall, great game.

You may recall (if you don't, you can just scroll down) that I'm working on getting the Content Management System finished very quickly for a client that owns a bar.

Well, tonight, I finally cleared the biggest hurdles to getting that done.

Here's what the buttons are and what they do:

To the left of the headline:

  • The first button (with the pencil on it) lets the user edit the text.
  • The second button lets the user move the headline down to the top of the next paragraph. If this headline wasn't already at the top of the page, the user would be able to move the headline up, too.
  • The third button lets the user delete the headline.

To the left of the paragraphs:

  • The first button edits text
  • Second deletes the paragraph

Above the photo:

  • First button edits the caption.
  • Second, third and fourth buttons let the user move the image on the page. If the image wasn't at the right side of the page, there'd be a fifth button to move the image right.
  • Sixth button (with the double arrows) lets the user resize the image.
  • Seventh button (with the circle arrow) lets the user rotate the image.
  • Eighth button lets the user delete the image.

I can't reiterate enough how difficult it was to get all that stuff to where the user could do it without ever leaving the page. That page is already using my IneffableDB database engine, which handles all the back-end data, then Javascript is displaying and manipulating the page as the user changes things.

I'm pretty proud of it. I'm still working on other stuff, but it's minor stuff. I think IneffableCMS might be nearing alpha stage.

I sent this to my wife just now:

She's always had a weird phobia where hive-like holes in things give her the creeps. So occasionally, I'll poke at it.

I don't know what that picture is of, but whoever it is may need an exorcism. Or a chainsaw.

Today, I hooked up a third screen to my workstation in my office, because when you're working on large programming projects, it's handy to have different parts of the program displayed on different parts of the screen. That is for multiple reasons, one of which is sometimes you have to look somewhere other than where you're programming to make sure the part you're working on is correctly interacting with the other parts of the program. Other times, you have to make sure everything is exactly how you remember it.

So my wife came in while I was working and goes, "NERD!"

To which I answered, "Nerd's wife!"

Oh, burn.

I was offered a publishing contract for Robby the R-Word today. I haven't accepted it yet, because another publisher is also reviewing my manuscript, and I'm going to give it a little while before I make a decision. It's good to be wanted, though.

The acquisitions editor who read Robby the R-Word had some really flattery stuff to say about it:

There’s no shortage of evidence in this manuscript that Mr. Wright is a very talented writer. His quality level of writing is high and immediately draws the reader into the story. Robby the R-Word is inspiring, engaging the reader in several levels of thought as they follow the murder mystery cases while simultaneously empathizing with Robby. It encourages the reader to think about the dark shadows lurking in the otherwise vividly bright world around them. Above all, this manuscript is dark, detailed, daring, gritty, gruesome, emotional, and it isn’t suited for the faint of heart. It reads like a horror film, and it leaves the reader with a heavy weight in their heart and a sense of satisfaction (from righteous revenge) in their mind.

OK, lady, you're hired as my publicist forever! But then she went on:

The story demands the reader’s attention from the very beginning, and is engaging enough to keep the reader on their toes the whole time. This book is suited for an audience that is open to feel uncomfortable, wincing, feeling, and crying as they read. The daring style is comparable to Chuck Palahniuk’s novels.

That's right, you heard it here first: I've been compared favorably to Chuck Palahniuk. I've never read any of his writing, but I know people think he's great, so I'm flattered. And I loved the Fight Club movie, so there's that.

The truth is, you can't ever let flattering stuff like that go to your head, because it will turn you into a giant, throbbing douchebag.

That said, I think I'll bask in it for a few hours, anyway.

So I'm designing a website for a client who owns a local bar, and one of their requirements is to update it frequently. Well, I have no desire to get calls every night to post what band is about to play or whatever else passes for news at a bar, so it radically accelerated the need for my Content Management System to allow them to update the site themselves without my involvement.

And that meant rethinking how the thing worked. Currently, on this site, I log into a control panel and compose entries. To edit those entries, I go to the same control panel. But that's a habit I developed while using old-school CMSes - ones that, in my (not so) humble opinion, are poorly designed, which is one of the reasons I embarked on this project in the first place.

The very idea of a "control panel" means a user has to know more stuff than the average person, and that's exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to avoid. So last night, I redesigned the way the system works (I haven't implemented it here yet, but it's working smashingly on the bar site):

No cracks about my design skills, or lack thereof. The wood stuff is the actual bar top in the bar. The logo is designed to look like a coaster on the bar top.

When the owner logs in (a simple matter of going to the site and entering in his username and password), the site refreshes itself with buttons designed to facilitate editing individual items on the page. When he clicks on one of the items:

Then he can edit the site right there, without ever leaving his front page. If he wants to dig deeper, notice at the bottom of the white area, he can add to his page's text, add an image, add a completely new page (which will then appear on the menu on the left) or delete the page he's currently working on. When he adds a new page, the system creates a dummy page based on whatever template he selects (or the main page's template if he doesn't select a different one), fills it with dummy data (like the "lorem ipsum" stuff) and presents him with the editing buttons.

For blog-like pages (pages where there are multiple small "articles"), there is a button to add a single entry, which looks a lot more like a blog editor, but still appears in place.

I'm pretty stoked about it, and though there may be one somewhere, I can't think of another CMS that operates this way. I guarantee there's not one that operates this way AND is almost brainless to install. So I'm pretty excited.

Here's a page with a few more elements on it (this is a dummy page for another client using the same system):

For comparison, I looked at the source on a page at a newspaper in my hometown (my competition). I know from working there that they use a very complicated CMS. While viewing the page's source, the developer tools registered more than 400 errors (things that don't work) on the page and more than 300 warnings (things that should be fixed). That's the result of a system that's entirely too complicated.

So then I looked at the source on my CMS. Zero errors, zero warnings. That's heading in the right direction.

My love for reading police reports is well-documented. This morning, I came across this gem, from the Tahlequah, Oklahoma police:

I love that the dude was either:

  • So drunk he thought a $10 bill was his license
  • So drunk he thought a cop could be bribed for $10
  • So drunk he didn't care

On, by the way, a Thursday night.

So the next report is from an officer who clearly took a few English test, in which he done poorly on:

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