So there we were, Sunday morning, coffee on the deck… and we hear noise at the local gravel crushing site down the road from us.
Crap! It was supposed to be closed by now.
Here I was, thinking I would not really have to go through with my promise to run for County Commissioner if nothing was done to improve the state of local roads.
So far, nothing has changed but I was cool with “letting the clock run.” Until Sunday morning at a quarter to 8 when heavy equipment noises including the obnoxious back-up beepers started going, again.
What to do?
Well, off to the web services provider. Bought a website domain name and the cheapest possible hosting plan I could find. $27 and change for the whole thing. First month of hosting included and $8 a month thereafter. Works for me.
From there, it was a matter of…
- Installing the publishing framework.
- Writing some content
- Going out and taking some road pictures
- Adding the pictures to the website (which meant optimizing and various monkey-motion)
- Finishing the optimizing process (Ure, the speed-tuner)
The result of 5-hours of “Ure-time” may be seen over at www.fixandersonroads.org.
Not like the local powers (that want to) be aren’t in the dark about what’s going on here. In fact, I sent a nice email to the County Judge advising him (and the editor of the local paper) of my intentions to get serious on the campaign.
None of which matters a bit to anyone outside of Anderson County, Texas, except it explains why everyone hereabouts drives a pick-up truck: It’s slightly faster than driving a Caterpillar D-6 into town, although that’s really a better choice, until you get up to the noisiest piece of road ever driven, which is the local Farm to Market road. Abbreviated in Texas as an “FM” road, as opposed to a County Road which goes as a “CR.”
But there is one little item that slapped me in the face yesterday as I was screaming through content-generation. In the tradition of Barrack Hussein O, let me quote from myself here:
“The Ure Vision
Pronounced “Your Vision”
- Money should be spent based on numbers of users. Busy roads should get more, quieter roads should get less. Businesses that damage roads (overweight trucks) should be required to post a damage bond. The County should allocate funds on condition and traffic counts. Ever see a traffic counter in Anderson County? I’ve been looking for one for 12-years now!
- Faster fire, EMS. and Sheriff response times. Greater community EMS involvement.
- Online Government: If your bank can provide critical and confidential services, have you ever wondered why local government can’t? Answer: Power-hungry, egocentric, non-responsive office-holders, that’s why.
Aw, come on, don’t look so surprised. Ever wonder how a Congressman gets elected, goes to Washington, and gets RICH? Ever wonder why county-level “climbers” are trying to build regional empires?
Look, folks: This ain’t that hard.
Government can be online and responsive to the people any damn time it wants.
Fact is, it doesn’t want to.
Democracy talks a good game. But when the rubber meets the road, do we hook up online and vote or at least spend a few minutes a week on surveys of how we want local government to help us?
No, sir. Government depends on Facebook, Twitter, and Tinder to keep we the people distracted.
One of the reasons that we don’t have online government is that banks (however crooked) are somewhat more organized than government when comes to being web-savvy. This is why you can “bank online” but we can’t all meet-up and do government online.
Now, here’s the thing:
In the real world of competitive web development and design, there are only a few things that matter: Content, responsive (phone-friendly images and resizing), and brutally fast, well-optimized code.
Again, in the “real world” we measure this how? With tools like Google Page Speed Insights. Another good one, which I used as part of the development process for this little 5-hour miracle of mine at the Fix Anderson Roads website is www.gtmetrix.com.
And here’s how local county government looked from a competitive standpoint: (best of 3)
Yee gads! Kerosene-powered servers, or what?
Now, in fairness, this is only one testing service (GT Metrix). But there are others, as well.
For example, Google Page Speed Insights scores the local county government website at 62 mobile and 66 for desktops on a scale of 100.
By comparison, my tiny 5-hour project www.fixandersonroads.org was showing 98 mobile and 97 desktop (best of 3)…which I suppose I could improve on a bit, but there is more to life than leveraging one’s skillsets in computers into politics. Besides, we have to go to Shreveport today to get a new key made for the 10-year old Lexomobile. (Panama has guard duty here at the ranch tonight.)
The other fact is, by the time 3 PM Sunday rolled around (and I was five hours into this little project), I said screw it. The Sunday afternoon martini overtook web optimization on my priority list. (Can’t imagine how this happens, but it does, sometimes.)
I’m still debating whether I should point any of this out to the County government types. What they may not appreciate is that just “being on the web” is a so-what, know-nothing deal anymore. What should cause the Fix Roads website to rise in Google and other search engines when people go looking for Anderson County online is that web site speed is a critical indicator of where a website will display in search results.
Why am I telling you this? Well…
Like I said before, web site speed and mobile-friendly is what works. Speed and code is a measurable performance metric. We can argue test design, but numbers is numbers, kiddies.
Knowing that websites can be an indicator of general management awareness and mindset, you may find the following GT Metrix results of interest: (Default Vancouver B.C. server, ad blocking off, emulating Firefox desktop…)
Donald Trump: Page speed 94, Y-Slow 91.
Ted Cruz: Page speed 86, Y-Slow 65
Marco Rubio: Page speed 50, Y-Slow 81
Jeb Bush: Page speed 94, Y-Slow 68
On the other side of the aisle:
Bernie Sanders: Page speed 93, Y-Slow 77
Hillary Clinton: Page speed 80, Y-Slow 74
There are, of course, many strategies to optimize web site performance: One example is use of HTTPS (where the S stands for “secure socket layer”). Some search engines will give a few bonus points for this.
Another factor in some speed ratings, just as Google’s Page Speed Insights will penalize a website for off-page loading times. For example, UrbanSurvival gets a penalty that takes this site down a bit with Google because we use Google Adsense to serve our ads over on the right side of the screen, there.
I know this sounds odd, but think about it: Google’s Page Speed Insights seems penalize Google Adsense which has always popped up in our Page Speed Insights reports. I’ve pointed this out to Google a couple of times, but that’s why knowledgeable people use multiple tools.
[IOW: We have, as the old Monty Python bit used to go, “No time Toulouse!” in our hyper-caffeinated rock’n and roll’n MSH (make’n shit happen) hours of financial consciousness.]
All of which brings us to our astounding bottom lines thanks to Mrs. Olson:
1. George’s political website ($27 and change out of pocket) smokes the local county website which admittedly is more complex. (On the other hand, did I mention there is one of me?)
2. Based on my simple little website test, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders seem to have the best web performance.
3. What did you get for the billions of our tax dollars spent on the Obamacare website?
www.healthcare.gov was showing a Page speed of 88 and a Y-Slow of 66 on GT Metrix this morning.
Last, but not least, when I ran GT Metrix against the www.whitehouse.gov website what did I get?
Page speed 78, Y-Slow 74.
BTW: If you don’t put the “www” in front of Whitehouse.gov on GT Metrix, you might get a “certificate error.” Hmmm…certificate error from the Obama WH…who’dah thought?
IRS? Page speed 69, Y-Slow 68.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)? Page speed 31, Y-Slow 74. (GT Metrix popped up an “F” for their page speed. Maybe they missed the WH memo on slow is required by the brass at ICE, yah think?)
This last reading, in particular, underscores this morning’s wild and crazy idea: That web speed performance may be more on an IRL (in real life) indicator of whats-up than most of us might otherwise think.
In general, if a page isn’t loaded in 2 or 3 seconds, people will click on to something else. ADHD runs rampant here in the Divided States. Load time for ICE.gov was running about 7-seconds this morning.
And that, in excruciating detail is why your bank can deliver you information about how much the wife spent shopping at Kroger’s in town before she’s even home with the groceries.
While government can’t effectively poll the real residents of a county commissioner or Congressional district.
It isn’t that the technology isn’t there: It’s that the customer awareness isn’t.
Unfair analysis? You bet!
But like I said, there’s one of me.
If they can’t manage their websites, WTF makes us think they can manage a whole country?
Bottom Line #2:
I believe that online governance can work out fine. So much so that we will be going over it on Peoplenomics.com this week or next.
Don’t suppose I should mention I just bought the domain name “alternativegovernment.org” should I?
Write when you break-even,