Monday, September 24, 2007

The Land Line Web site: A guided tour

Have you ever been flipping through the channels and gotten caught up in one of those weekend marathons on the VH1 or E! television networks that tells the story behind the story of some famous band or actor?

If not, take heed – they’re completely addicting, and watching one hour-long episode is virtually impossible. Pretty soon, you’ll be spending a sunny afternoon at home learning about Blue Oyster Cult’s tumultuous early years when you should be out working on the truck or mowing the lawn.

I feel like this blog is Land Line’s “Behind the Music” or “E! True Hollywood Story.” It gives us the chance to tell you about the details you’re not going to read or hear anywhere else.

Take the Land Line Web site itself, for example. As online editor, it’s my job not only to make sure you’re able to read the day’s top news and information, but also to make sure you’re getting the maximum amount of news and information in the fastest and most convenient way possible. I guess you could say I try to make the news a little newsier.

The problem is – especially for casual readers who might not take a good look around – there are a lot of hidden gems that go largely unnoticed.

Did you know, for example, that you can read the Land Line daily headlines from your Web-enabled mobile phone here? It’s essentially a low-bandwidth, reformatted list of our daily news and Special Reports, which means it also works well for people who are out on the road or have slow Internet connections. We’re still working out a way to make mobile versions of the stories themselves, but for now, you can at least read the headlines.

Have you experimented with RSS? If not, it’s another service on our site that can make your life easier. If you read a lot of news from a lot of different Web sites, RSS feeds can gather all that information and display it for you on one page. For more information on how to do this with Land Line’s news, click here.

Ever read a story on the site and wished you could keep a copy to read later? With the “Save” button found on every story page of the site, you can. When you click it, the site will automatically create a PDF of the page you were reading and save it to your hard drive.

Next to the “Save” button are several other helpful buttons, like the “Print,” “Size” and “E-mail” buttons. By the way, if you haven’t printed a story from the Land Line site before, give it a try. If you’ve ever printed something from the Internet and been totally frustrated by how terrible it looks on paper, I think you’ll be impressed.

By far, my favorite feature on the site is the “Bookmark” button on the bottom of every story. It’s a great way to share stories with friends, family, and complete strangers, and to spread OOIDA’s message far beyond the trucking industry. I could fill pages explaining how useful this really is, but to learn more about social bookmarking, click here.

There’s a lot more going on “under the hood” of the Land Line Web site, but these are a few of my favorites. If you get a few minutes, take a look around – you’re likely to find a few that will help improve the way you get your trucking news and information.

That is, if you can pry yourself away from that documentary on Britney Spears’ hair extensions.