Friday, November 25, 2005

Buffalo Notes

In an effort to recapture some of my Buffalo blog street-cred, here's some Buffalo-related linkage and random thoughts about stuff:

:: Craig wonders if Buffalonians should be offended:

Just saw an ad on TV (maybe you've all seen it already) where two faceless people on a beach rip up their plane tickets back to Buffalo and lie back to enjoy a Corona.

Nah -- just as long as a couple of guys in Bills sweatshirts come wandering through with a six-pack of Labatt's and kick sand in the face of these two Corona-swilling losers. Or maybe we can have some folks sitting on a deck in ski country, enjoying the snow and quaffing a bottle of Flying Bison. Remember, folks: "If you gotta put a lime in your beer, you're suckin' on a lemon." Suck it, Corona!

:: At Craig's other blog (in which he provides more Upstate NY relevant news, as opposed to Buffalo-centric stuff), I see this curious item:

Developers and Allegany County officials say the development of an indoor water park and hotel at the intersection of Interstate 86 and Route 19 is on schedule and construction could start in the spring....The project is expected to include an enclosed water park with 35,000 feet of space in addition to a restaurant and a 100-room Comfort Suites Hotel, part of Choice Hotels International.

I have one simple question about this: Huh?!

Or, putting it more specifically, what is up with this particular location? I've driven by that interchange on Interstate 86 many times, and believe me when I tell you that there is nothing there.

Here's the Google Map of the location. That's about as far from anything in the Southern Tier as you can get without actually entering the Black Hole of Calcutta (named on most maps as "Pennsylvania"). This interchange is about halfway between Olean and Hornell, which are about the only towns in the Southern Tier of any size at all between Jamestown and Corning. At this interchange you'll find an old and rather beat-up truck stop, and...that's it. About the only things of consequence in the area are Alfred State College (but a better route to Alfred would be to get off I-86 two exits down), Wellsville (a sleepy town of about 10,000 people, about ten miles south of I-86), Houghton (an even sleepier town that has a college and nothing else), and Letchworth State Park farther north (twenty-five or so miles north of I-86). This project isn't close enough to the Finger Lakes region to capitalize on any of that traffic (the Hornell/Arkport exit is a much more logical point to get off I-86 if one is heading for the westernmost reaches of the Fingerlakes), and it's far enough from Hornell and the junctions of I-86 and I-390 to capitalize on that traffic as well, so I'm wondering just who is intended to patronize this waterpark/hotel thing.

Believe me here: I used to drive this stretch of road a lot, often on various meetings when I worked for Pizza Hut (our Area Manager operated out of Corning), and even before than when as a kid we'd often take then Route 17 (which is now I-86) east a ways as the first part of our jaunts to Philadelphia, where my grandmother lived. When you're driving westbound on I-86, the traffic is fairly thick until you reach I-390, where just about all of the traffic peels off and heads north toward Rochester, while only a handful of vehicles continue across the Southern Tier.

I really can't imagine why anyone thinks that this particular interchange is a good place for a project like this.

:: I've often wondered why the Buffalo News website is so unbelievably half-assed. The overall appearance is absurdly cluttered, with a large block of unused gray space at the right of my browser window and everything else jammed as close together as humanly possible; navigation of the site is difficult and counterintuitive; daily content is updated exactly once, and too late (9:00 am) to be of any use to early risers like myself; photos from the paper seem to exhibit some really weird colorations in their online incarnations; et cetera.

By way of specific examples of the News's web ineptitude, here's an article from today's News on the website. It is accompanied by a graphic that gives some bullet-points relating to the story, but the graphic is rather hard to read at the current level of resolution. There's a little link right above the graphic to magnify it, but if they'd actually use the entire browser window and ditch that giant swath of gray at the right of the window, they'd be able to accomodate a legible version of that graffic on the story's actual page instead of making people click through to get it.

And, of course, there's my favorite example: the "My View" column, which is a reader-submitted feature appearing daily (and which, I might add, has twice published articles by Your Humble Narrator). If you're reading today's "My View" column and you want to know how to submit one of your own, you scroll to the bottom of the column where you find this helpful bit of instruction:

For submission guidelines on columns appearing in this space, visit the Web site and click on Top Stories. Then click on Opinion, My View and Guidelines; or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Opinion Pages Guidelines, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240.

Well, that's certainly helpful. Even more helpful, of course, would be an actual friggin' link to those guidelines. It's the Web, guys, and here on the Interweb, we link stuff. Here's an example:

For submission guidelines on columns appearing in this space, go here.

And that's only half the fun here: those half-assed "Click this, then click that, and then click here again" constitutes the actual instructions for finding the guidelines that appear in the print edition of the News as well, when most other print publications would simply give the URL, like this:

For submission guidelines on columns appearing in this space, visit

The News's web operation isn't just ugly; it displays a shocking amount of ignorance of the way that the Web actually works.

Well, thanks to Alan, I now know why the News's website is so bad (as well as a lot of other bad stuff about the News). I mean, check out this Donn Esmonde article from today: does it seem odd that the website of a major metropolitan newspaper should be using Google Ads?

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