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Posts Tagged ‘nyt’

NY Times Redesigns Digital Crossword Puzzles

I’m a word person, but I’ve never been any good at crosswords. I’ve always thought my vocabulary was a hindrance, not so much that I don’t know the right word but that I know too many possible words that my brain can fill in the blank with two or three options and, even in pencil, that makes me afraid to commit to a potentially wrong answer. I’m more of a Sudoku gal, personally.

Nonetheless, I thought it was interesting to see that the New York Times — the de facto crossword king — has redesigned its digital crosswords games this week. It’s an interesting development because, while I’m all about the journalism, I like to see news agencies realize their mission isn’t just to inform but also to entertain. That’s why newspapers print things like movie reviews, comic strips and yes, crossword puzzles. I know several people who only (or in large part) pick up the newspaper for the puzzles or who save outdated editions for the day off someday when they’ll have time to work through them. (I hope they get some of the news while they’re there, though.) So it’s nice to see the Times devoting some of their IT power to improving the digital presentation and play of one of their most popular non-news features. Note: They do charge a few bucks a month for premium access to the daily puzzles, but do offer older puzzles from the archives for free.

Not only have they rolled out an HTML5 version of the crossword, but they’ve also coupled the new style with a very in-depth tutorial and explainer on the changes. They even have puzzle maestro Will Shortz on video explaining how he works and giving tips for Crossword beginners.

Among the changes the Times says they’ve made:

  • Clean and simplified layout
  • One entry point with various options on how to solve
  • Redesigned personalized scorecard
  • New bonus puzzles
  • Larger squares
  • Redesigned leaderboard statistics with top 10 puzzlers
  • Cleaner color scheme of blue, gray and white

The new game play is intuitive, and because it’s running on HTML5 it’s played right in browser without me needing any extra plug-ins or anything. Even on my older Mac, it worked seamlessly and swiftly. I might even be able to get into crosswords with a platform like this. Maybe.

News Sites Prepare Online Coverage Of Presidential Debate

Tonight marks the first official presidential campaign debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. It’s taking place in Denver (at 9 p.m. Eastern, or 6 p.m. Pacific), but since you likely haven’t snagged a seat, your options for viewing are plentiful this election year. You may not have determined who you’re voting for let alone figured out how you’re watching the debates. Here are five options for where to watch tonight’s Q&A and interact with others watching.
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Choose Your Fonts Wisely To Maximize Credibility

Comic Sans is the proverbial red-headed step child of typefaces. But beyond being derided for its cutesy looks and people’s penchant for using it in inappropriate communications, a recent “experiment” conducted by filmmaker Errol Morris in a piece he wrote for NYT.com shows that perception of the font can cause readers to do more than snicker. It may cause them to question your facts and affect whether they believe what you’ve written at all, he concludes in a follow-up.

We all know that we are influenced in many, many ways — many of which we remain blissfully unaware of. Could typefaces be one of them? Could the mere selection of a typeface influence us to believe one thing rather than another? Could typefaces work some unseen magic? Or malefaction?
Don’t get me wrong. The underlying truth of the sentence “Gold has an atomic number of 79” is not dependent on the typeface in which it is written. The sentence is true regardless of whether it is displayed in Helvetica, Georgia or even the much-maligned Comic Sans. But are we more inclined to believe that gold has an atomic number of 79 if we read it in Georgia, the typeface of The New York Times online, rather than in Helvetica?

To test this, he wrote a post in which a script changed the typeface of an identical passage and then asked readers (apparently more than 45,000 of them) to take a quiz asking whether they believed it to be true. The fonts tested were Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans and Trebuchet.
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Why should developers work in the newsroom? NYT and ProPublica coders explain

Newsrooms can be stressful places, full of strong personalities, short deadlines and an insatiable news hole. For reporters and editors, they’re stressful for another reason: The on-going uncertainty of when the fun may end and their ride on the journalism merry-go-round will stop while they join the queue of former journalists vying for fewer and fewer news jobs.

Meanwhile, software developers can often have their pick of locations and a plethora of job opportunities to go after. Their skills are in demand in many industries. So why should they bother to take their talents to a corner of the development industry where so often the “developing story” is about its own struggles or layoffs?

Besides the obvious — we need help to make cool news apps to compliment and help build on our stories! — Dan Sinker at PBS MediaShift Idea Lab tracked down six developers working in the news business to get their take on why they wanted to code in the newsroom.

It turns out they’re drawn for similar reasons as the writers and editors: the unpredictable, deadline-driven development atmosphere is fun, and there’s the opportunity to help tell the story and make news and data more meaningful.

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Jack This Site: NewsJack Lets Regular Users Remix Websites

Ever thought you could come up with better headlines, photos or layouts for a website? Now you can prove it with a fun new tool: NewsJack.

The super easy to use tool lets users customize everything from the formatting, to the links, to the text, to the photo, to well, everything — on any website. Give HuffPo the conservative slant you always dreamed of, or endorse Obama on the Fox News site. I resisted the urge to plaster the New York Times homepage with LOL Cats. But In this quick silly mock-up, I did slip in a photo of my dog reading the local sports page.

I took a screen grab, but you can also publish your piece for the world to view your revisions. Of course, you could use this for serious purposes, such as mocking up your own page to see how a change would look. But it’s also completely fun to play with headlines and placement on other sites. The real beauty is in the ease of use. In about 10 minutes you can completely redesign your favorite (or least favorite) sites.

Of course, this tool will forever make me even more skeptical of rogue headlines allegedly screen grabbed on any news site.

According to the site, NewsJack is a project of MIT’s Center for Civic Media. You can follow the creators on Twitter @news_jk. And share your creations with us, @10000words.

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