Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
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The End of the Caps Tour…And So Long, Farewell, Goodbye!
Sad to say that this is the last issue of LLRXBuzz. I’ve been writing this column for almost three years, found a lot of neat Web sites, and just generally had a good time. Thanks for reading. I’ll be continuing with ResearchBuzz, http://www.researchbuzz.com. And if you want to get more information about legal-tech news and interesting sites, be sure to check out Sabrina I. Pacifici’s new blog, beSpacific, http://www.bespacific.com.
For this last issue we’re going to take a look at five more city capitals — Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming and the two we weren’t able to get to, (Boise and Harrisburg.)
** WI — Wisconsin — Madison
I love it when you can turn off a site’s styles and it barely makes any difference. Very simple, but good-looking, site! News, as I’m seeing more and more, is in the middle column. There’s also a pointer to new offerings at the
Madison library and a list of new items on the site.
On the right there are two sets of information. There’s some seasonal links (winter parking rules, winter farmer’s market, etc.) Beneath that are items of interest to the visitor to Madison, including maps, restaurants, events, and
The links on the left are “quick links” and they live up to their name. You’ll find information on the city cable channel, the city council, disability rights, and the weekly meeting schedule. Then there’s “Doing Business With the City” which includes a employment and online payment information (parking tickets, water bill, bike registration, etc.) There’s information for Madison residents (bike
information, maps, police “press releases” (a list of recent incidents in the area where police were involved), school information, and voting information.
If the information on the left isn’t enough for you, be sure to check out the extremely detailed city services page which is an index from A ( starting with Accessible Services on Metro Transit ) to Z (the Zoo.) Plenty of information here in a plain-but-useful design. system.
** WV — West Virginia — Charleston
No, not Charleston South Carolina, which I almost accidentally wrote up. Think John Denver and not Blackbeard. (Or think of them both; this *is* the last issue. “West Virginia.. mountain mama… arr, maties!”)
Anyway, back to Charleston’s Web site. Though it’s a little heavier on the graphics than Madison’s site, it still has the same clean layout. The mayor is welcoming me during the fall season, and notes “I am also looking forward to
citywide projects involved with the upcoming holiday season,” indicating that he’s even more behind on his site updates than I am.
The site itself was updated today, however, and there’s a hefty list of what’s-new on the front page, including an offer to register for a vendor list (to receive notification of RFPs and Bid Notices placed on the site), job postings, and the holiday budget meetings. There are also links to Charleston news media, some information about the city, and some pictures at the bottom.
On the left of the page you’ll find the site menu; there’s plenty of information (upcoming meetings, three different calendars, and city press releases) along with city services, city government (why are only the “common ordinances” listed? Are the whole listings somewhere I couldn’t find them?) and some Charleston/West Virginia links of interest. Note, that “General Questions” link will take you to an e-mail address, not an FAQ.
** WY — Wyoming — Cheyenne
I’ve always been a big fan of the state of Wyoming’s site because they have a calendar of statewide events right on their front page. To me it makes the site feel cozy. Cheyenne does not have a calendar right on its front page.
However, it did have a big empty space when I looked at it in Opera, and there was no indication what was missing, if anything. I finally opened it in IE and saw four pictures fly into that space, and text that was static with Opera
scroll across the screen. I won’t worry about that.
Aside from flying pictures (in IE, anyway) the right side of the front page offers some information about Cheyenne, links to local event information (not quite a calendar, but close), current topics of interest under a “What’s New” banner, and a search box. On the left is a menu which includes information on the mayor, city council boards and committees, city attorney, and various city council information.
In addition there’s also, among other things, a page for Parks & Rec, Public Safety (including police department) “Weed & Pest,” a brief but useful list of community links, a phone list (departments only — no names) and an interesting page of demographics.
** Idaho — Boise
As you might remember from earlier in our saga, I had a hard time getting a response from the City of Boise Web site. But I was looking at the wrong URL. A couple of readers helped me out, so here I am, looking at a very nice site.
And a very blue site. The only thing that breaks up the blueness is the weather note and the balloon picture at the top of the page. But no matter. There are a lot of links on this page and a couple of useful drop down menus. The menus
first. They’re located at the top of the page on either side of the search box. The one on the left contains directories: city code listings, city organization structure, business services (lots of online options) and a nice feature
called, “Whose job is it?” Find out which department handles a variety of tasks including dog tags, flood control, and recycling. On the right there’s a brief list of contact links, including the phone number for the Mayor’s Hotline.
I can’t say the links are on the right or left with this site, because the links are all over. They’re divided into categories: departments, mayor & council, business in Boise, and visiting Boise. In the middle you’ll find news and links
to new online offerings. A dynamic site with some great ideas. I’m just sorry it took me so long to find it!
** Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
So I couldn’t find this site and couldn’t find it and couldn’t find it, and I was feeling rather silly, but when I finally got the URL I knew why I hadn’t been able to find it — it was launched on December 18! My timing was off!
The middle column of this new site contains press releases (including the one on the site launch) as well as a link to a substantial economic profile on the city of Harrisburg. (Use the nav on the left part of the page to get through the
economic profile. Lots to see here.) On the left of the front page you’ll find quick links to things like visitor information, downtown parking, and a calendar of events.
On the right is the balance of the site. Material here includes a search box for the Web or their site only (looks like they’re powered by Google) and a variety of other links including administration, city engineer, education resources, and public safety. When you click on one of these sections, look for the submenu on that particular section to appear on the left part of the screen.
There’s also a nice section called Website Help that points to a variety of software downloads (they mention Mozilla, but not Opera…. sigh…) and provides information on accessing the site with JAWS, a screen reader for those with sight impairment. You can tell that this site was well thought-out.
That’s it. So long, you-all! It was fun.