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Las Vegas Sun

An overview of the Strip as it was in 2007. This is an interactive map you can use to view casinos from 1930 until today. Credit: Las Vegas Sun

As someone who works in media (newspapers) I like to stay abreast of what other newspapers are doing, especially online. It’s a format all newspapers have embraced and are trying to make their own.

The Las Vegas Sun is leading the field. I could expound on the virtues of their site and how much I want to work for them many times over, but I’ll try to keep it simple. The area they excel in is online breaking news microreporting (ie; they are covering your neighbourhood and all the news that is relevant to you as it happens.) They do this not only in traditional text reporting, but also in video, photos and other online multimedia.

Of course, Las Vegas is, well, VEGAS, and it has a lot of history behind it, which has been documented since the start. The Las Vegas Sun’s site has a whole section that covers the history of the Strip, as well as downtown and valley casinos. They talk about celebrities, construction, even mob ties.

I’ve already professed my love for maps, so you can guess what my favourite feature is; the zoomable, clickable, timelined casino history maps. They even feature non Strip hotels, which are just as important in Las Vegas, but obviously are not seen as much by many visitors.

Las Vegas Sun

You can click on any of the hotels for an info box like this. Credit: Las Vegas Sun

If you are having your wedding in Vegas, or are even considering a trip there, I highly recommend you check this section of their site out. It’s highly informative and very interactive. It would be a great place to link to if you have a wedding website and want to give your guests a bit of background on the city. Even residents and people who have been to Vegas multiple times will probably learn something new about Las Vegas.

Source: Las Vegas Sun Vegas history microsite

Overview and close up view of my favourite area on the Las Vegas Strip

Overview and close up view of my favourite area on the Las Vegas Strip

While the name is odd and confusing, I have to say the product Onion Maps puts out is kind of cool. I’ve seen a few well done wedding websites with detailed maps and directions on them, or even hand drawn maps in invites. I love maps. I actually seriously considered becoming a geographer or cartographer for a long time, but stuck with science.

Onion Maps does detailed drawings of major cities around the world. A few of my favourites on their list; Bangkok, Tokyo, Seattle…and of course, Las Vegas. I thought it would make a nice, different addition to a wedding information website. A little bit different than Google Maps or even Google Earth streetview images.

Source: Onion Maps

When I first discovered wedding blogs (wedblogs?) I was astounded at the ferocity of posting. Two, three, four posts a day…as many as 30 or 40 on a site like Weddingbee is not unheard of. Although a lot of the blogs post similar material (how can you blame them, there are some beautiful parties and weddings out there) they all try to put their own spin on it which makes for extremely deep and original writing. But as soon as a new wedding is up, there are people writing about it. How were they able to stay so on top of it, I wondered.

Then I found out about RSS feeds and feed readers like Google Reader.

Although I had been a blogger for quite some time, I had never really subscribed to many blogs. I had a few bookmarked, and every few days, there would be a new post that I would discover on my rounds of procrastinatory web surfing. Then I started to find blogs I liked, and ones that were extremely prolific, with multiple posts a day. I’m actually quite busy at work, so I can’t afford the time to sit and read posts, but I was missing many good posts just relying on browsing through the blog’s archives.

Enter Google Reader, your new best friend. If you are already familiar, sit and squeal with me as I go through the features.

If you have a Gmail account, you have access to this free and easy to use program. It runs in your web browser, although you can set it up to download posts so that you can read them when you are out of a WiFi zone or such.

The posts generally appear as they do on the blog, but stripped of any pretty design the blogger may have put up. You usually have to visit the actual blog entry to watch any video clips or read comments, and sometimes a blogger has altered their blog so that the reader doesn’t display the entire post or doesn’t show pictures, so it’s better to visit the blog itself. But the program usually handles posts well.

Starting at the purple star on the left hand side, you can add your subscriptions. Usually this is just the main URL for the blog you read, but not always. For instance mine would be https://hesaidyes.wordpress.com

Trial and error or looking for the RSS feed button helps. Look for this on blogs you like to read: . Click it and it will walk you through adding to your Google Reader (or other RSS feed reader).

Below that star is the list of your unread items. These are new posts since your last log in. It keeps track of everything you’ve missed, and you can just stop reading, and like a bookmark in a novel, it keeps your place. It also imports every blog post every written on the blog, so you can read back as far as you like.

The second star (top right), gives you suggestions of blogs you might like to read based on your reading tendencies. It’s pretty good, but not perfect I have to say. That’s okay though because adding and removing subscriptions is super easy if you decide you don’t like a blog. I’ve found the best source for new blogs is still blog rolls on favourite websites.

You can search for posts in your added blogs which is so helpful for those “I know I read it somewhere…” moments. You can star items to save for later in a special search query (far right hand lower star). Perfect to remember certain craft projects or blog entries. Clipping magazine articles or printing out entries has become a thing of the past with electronic clipping and starring.

Although I have an astounding 257 items to read (since midnight last night alone!) posted on over 100 blog subscriptions, this program has actually made me more productive. The blogs come to me, and wait until I am ready to read them. I don’t spend a lot of time looking for missed posts or trying to bookmark and find one post I liked in particular. And I can access it from anywhere, since it uses the browser. I usually read posts in bed, before going to sleep.

Now I finally understand how all those wedbloggers stay on top of things. Consider me a convert.

Other posts on the subject you might find helpful –

Lifehacker: Getting Good with Google Reader
Lifehacker: Top Five RSS Readers