Free, Cool, and Out of Beta

Free, Cool, and Out of Beta

Slate Explorer is out of beta, meaning that it is no longer considered experimental. It is safe to download–and we strongly urge you to do so without fear. Slate Explorer is a free little program that makes it easier to find your way around Slate. It tells you what’s in each day’s issue; it takes you to the page you want; and it even fires up your browser for you if you’re not online at the moment. Slate Explorer has been awarded Slate magazine’s “Cool Software of the Month” citation, beating out Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, among other products. “It’s um, you know, really cool,” explained the chairman of the judges’ panel, Slate Software Design Engineer David Milligan. Click here to find out more, and to download Slate Explorer. Just to clarify what it is, it is 1) free and 2) cool. That’s, um, what it is.

Baked While You Sleep

Our “Today’s Papers” feature, begun three months ago, is a big success. More than 20,000 people have signed up for e-mail delivery of Today’s Papers, and another 8,000 to 10,000 read it every day (six days a week) on the Web. (You can sign up for e-mail delivery right on the Today’s Papers page or by clicking here.) Most of the feedback we get is positive. But we do get several complaints a week about misspellings, grammatical errors, and so on. These readers ask: Don’t you edit this thing?

The simple, eloquent answer is: No. Here is why. The author of this feature, Scott Shuger, lives in Los Angeles. He cannot start work until the next day’s papers are posted on the Web at various times in the evening, and he must have it finished by 3:30 a.m. PDT so that we can get it posted on our site and delivered to people’s e-mail by early morning on the East Coast. We think Scott does a remarkable job given these working conditions, and that the hour ought to excuse a few typos and other minor mistakes. The reason we don’t catch them is that the rest of us are not as dedicated as Scott is, and are not inclined to be up at 3 a.m. six days a week to edit and proofread Scott’s copy.

Scott files his column directly onto our Web site from his computer in the San Fernando Valley. At a specified moment, a computer at the company that handles our e-mail delivery then grabs the copy from our site and mails it to our subscriber list. Except for Scott himself, the whole process is automated. And we’re working on that loophole.

Meanwhile, it is every journalist’s fantasy to be able to mainline prose directly into a publication without the interference of an editor. And there aren’t many writers we would trust with this kind of power. But we do trust Scott, a former naval-intelligence officer and editor of the Washington Monthly. Though if the typos get any worse, we may need to e-mail him a supply of Seattle’s favorite beverage.