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Great news — our calendar is getting better and better

We have some exciting news about an old feature of our website which will soon be brand new and expanded. We will soon bring you a community database, a one-stop shop for all things Juneau where you can search for a variety of activities, or just search what’s happening at a specific venue.
The best thing about it is community groups can enter their own event information. This isn’t just an arts, entertainment or sports calendar. It is Juneau’s directory of events, clubs and sports leagues.
It will be basically as much as you want it to be —  the more you use it, the more others will as well.
This searchable database can be a directory of civic groups, a place to go to select a church, or the place where you check in on your bowling league or softball organization’s events.
You can take a sneak peek at this service at a sister paper’s site.
Our company’s Augusta paper recently launched http://events.augusta.com/, and this great new events calendar “will begin rolling out the new events/venue database across all MPG sites,” according to Steve Yelvington of Morris Publishing Group.
This new calendar will replace zvents and all other event calendars, but as Steve said, it is much more than that:
• Through this the Empire can offer readers a complete list of everything that's happening in our communities. Your church worship schedules can go online. We’ll list government meetings and even what's happening at the library — all in one place.  
• Event organizers community groups can enter their own event listings into this calendar, which can be reviewed and approved for publication both on the Web and in print.
• Steve says widgets can be exported and placed on community groups' websites so the Empire’s calendar can be their calendars.
• The database can also be handy for small groups  that don’t yet have their own websites. They can have a page, with or without having to list events.

I don’t have a date for the rollout yet, but I’m looking forward to the possibilities this new database offers to our readers. If you’d like to participate, email me at john.moses@juneauempire.com and I’ll compile a contact list so you’ll be ready when this goes live on www.juneauempire.com.
 

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Of birds and firehouses: Some odds and ends at the end of the blog

Their mission: “To provide Alaskans access to safe, quality affordable housing.”
I’m starting to think the good folks at the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. are also trying to drive me insane.
It’s that bird sound on their commercial.
Chirp.
Chirp.
Chirp.
Chirp.
Over and over like some novelty joke product gone bad, and with no off switch.
I dive for the remote and turn off the sound when good old fictional characters Jen and Matt are grilling in the backyard of their new cartoon home.
Nothing against the wholesome-looking actors — they’re going a great job. The mission of the corporation — getting first-time homebuyers into a home where they can build equity — is outstanding. A similar agency helped my wife and I buy our first home years ago.
The odd animation — it makes me a little seasick, and I don’t even get seasick in 15-to-17-foot seas with huge winds if halibut is at stake.
No, it’s just the chirping bird that makes me turn off the sound. Once I do that, it’s easy enough to leave the sound off through all the rest of the commercials as well.
Annoyed as I am at the commercials, this is a good gimmick and an example of how Facebook can be used as a clever tool for an ad campaign.
Their latest pitch was to get people to vote for a fictional pet to keep the fictional couple company. (This isn’t a cool as playing a game of Sims, but it is interactive.)
I headed over to www.facebook.com/jenandmatt to vote for a new pet, but I was too late. A dog named Linus won.
I was going to vote for a fictional tiger, as that would at least take care of the annoying birds and certainly liven up the fictional barbecue conversations.
(I’m going to pass on picking a paint color for their fictional living room. Even fictional homeowners deserve some personal choice.)

                                  •                                     •                          •

How would you like to help local firefighters win a fire station makeover? Tell a firefighter you know they can enter a sweepstakes for a firehouse overhaul from California Casualty.
The prize will go somewhere — why not Juneau?
Here’s what they sent:
“October is Fire Prevention Month, a time when firefighters across the country go the extra mile to ensure each and every one of us is safe and taken care of.  All month long, firefighters in our communities are providing information, awareness and training to help promote fire safety.
To honor the firefighters who work so hard for all of us, California Casualty is giving away a Firehouse Makeover to a lucky fire station somewhere in America.   With supporting sponsors Maytag and Sherwin-Williams, the winning firehouse will receive an inside and outside makeover valued at over $15,000!

More information about the Firehouse Makeover can be found at http://www.FirehouseMakeover.com
To view a short (25 seconds) informational video about the Firehouse Makeover, click here: http://youtu.be/jMomjWEwm4s
About California Casualty - California Casualty is a 98-year-old policyholder-owned company headquartered in San Mateo, CA with service centers in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas. More information about its auto and home insurance for firefighters, peace officers, educators and nurses can be found at http://www.calcas.com.”

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