From Yorkshire To Virginia

Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years Eve

Well, what else is there to do to round off a year than to go see a hockey game? Went with my father-in-law to the MCI Arena and saw the Flyers lose to the Capitals 4-3. The score was tied at the end of regulation, and at the end of overtime, so it went to a shootout (newly introduced for this season). The caps scored on their first and third, the flyers on their second. So that was it, at least it was an enjoyable afternoon.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Went and picked the car up today, they figured out that the problem was a bad relay, so it ended up not costing too much... until I went and rear ended another car on the way home... Absolutely no damage to the other car, not to my volvo. The hood / bonnet is bent in, the lights are all smashed, and the bumper needs a paint job. What a nice way to end the year... a claims adjuster will be heading out tomorrow. :(

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


So what is this SEM that I've mentioned on here? Well, looking around there's a link to something called SEMPO on the left, so clicking on that would give you a big clue. SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Still none the wiser? Well it's basically the art and science of getting your website listed as highly as possible on search engine results pages, so when you search in Google for widgets, my site shows up as the top, and the higher it is, the more chance that someone will click on it, and buy my widgets.

As those who know me know, I haven't been doing this for long, heck probably only really a few months, but I'm learning as I go, and the intention is to get the people of Lincoln Nebraska heading to when they want to find any local businesses (the more SEO (Search Engine Optimized) version of the site is due to go up soon). How does this get done? Well there's 2 ways, one is called paid search, which involves us paying the search engines for placement on their results page, and every time someone clicks on a one of those links, we pay. The other way is SEO, this involves making the site as friendly to the search engines as possible, changing the text on the site, as well as the text beneath the surface.

Is it easy? Are there specfic rules as to what to do? No, if there were everyone would easily optimize their site to the max, and no-one would have any advantage. Instead there are guidelines, people who have experience and have tried different things post what works and what doesn't, and there's a fairly active community that's willing to offer help, and answer most questions. All I can say about it, is that it's going to be fun. It's a new direction for my career, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes :)

Going completely wireless...

So we're thinking about making a couple of more changes... the first is to switch from Verizon to Sprint, the reason being that out by where we live Verizon drops a lot, we can't make calls from inside stores, etc, etc. From friends of ours we've found out that Sprint/Nextel works great in our area, and given that we can retain our Verizon numbers, we're ready to make the change (our 2 year contract expired on Xmas eve).

One big plus of the Sprint network is that they offer a much better international plan, so for $4.99 a month I can talk to England for 6cents a minute :) Given that this was the last reason for us holding onto the land line, we're going to try using the cell phones as our main lines for a month, and if it looks good, get rid of it / knock it back to a really basic package.

The 10th Doctor

Christmas Day Top 10:

1. EastEnders (BBC1) - 10.1 million viewers
2. Dr Who (BBC1) - 9.4 million viewers
3. Coronation Street (ITV1) - 9.4 million viewers
4. Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook (BBC1) - 7.9 million viewers
5. Shrek (BBC1) - 6.7 million viewers
6. Emmerdale (ITV1) - 6.6 million viewers
7. Toy Story (BBC1) - 6.5 million viewers
8. Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (ITV1) - 6.3 million viewers
9. The Queen's Speech (BBC1) - 6.2 million viewers
10. BBC News 6.50pm (BBC1) - 6.2 million viewers

The show was fairly enjoyable, not a great episode, and the plot was a bit thin, but at least it was a decent introduction to a very British alien. The bad guys were well done, although the pilot fish were under used. I wasn't too keen on the fight scene, but I guess they're showing that he's going to be more in the Pertwee style of physical involvement (Venusian Karate?). I'll be interested to see how the new series goes in March, especially since they're bringing back some old favorites (Sara-Jane, K-9, and the Cybermen)...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Xmas in pictures

The Tree

First sight of the tree

Rip, Tear, Shred

The Final Haul

Friday, December 23, 2005

Santa is coming

...and NORAD is tracking him

Thursday, December 22, 2005

3 $50 Veggie Burgers please

On Tuesday night I decided to take my daughter out to the local BK for a treat (she likes the playground there). We got there and I ordered 3 Veggie burgers and a furby toy. The bill came to $15.66. I signed the credit card slip, ate my food, watched her play, and left.

I went to bed ~10pm, at 11.30 the phone rang, fearing the worst I leapt out of bed and grabbed it. It was the BK manager, her till didn't balance, and the reason was that I'd been charged $156.69 for my meal. The long and the short of it was that I went back last night, and got the $156.69 refunded, got the correct $15.66 charge put on, and the manager gave my daughter another Furby for free, so in the end it all worked out for the best. :)

Well changes are coming fast and furious. My wife has resigned her job (effective Jan 12th) for reasons that I won't go into given that people from work sometimes read this. We're taking our daughter out of school effective the same date, and she'll be home schooled. While the school has been good for her, and helped her out of her shell, she needs some 1 on 1 attention to get her up and running on writing and reading. Based on this, I'm now going back to school to work some more on that MBA I started last year (well technically I started it while doing my other Masters degree, since some of the classes count for both). I'm starting to pull a team together to get my department up and running (well running faster than it has been with one runner). I've also dropped out of CoH/V, an online game that I've enjoyed playing off and on for ~18 months.

Just like the old curse says "May you live in interesting times"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Addiction thy name is...

Football Manager 2006 The follow on from the old Championship Manager series. The graphics aren't great, but the gameplay is so addictive. I've been playing this game in one form or another for ~10 years now, and still can't put it down. If you like football/soccer management games, then this is the one to get.

Reliability thy name isn't Volvo

Well, before I went to Chicago we'd been having issues with the Volvo just dying (it generally starts up again ~1-2 minutes later). So we figured the trip would be the perfect time to leave the car in the shop, and get them to fix it. They apparently couldn't find the cause, although they charged us $700 for a bunch of things that might be it. Well with Kim out last week with her surgery, today was the first time I've driven it. I got about 3 miles from the house before it died on me...

Tonight I'm going attempt to drive it to a different Volvo dealership (same owners, different location), and hopefully they'll figure it out, otherwise there's going to have to be a xmas week trip to CarMax...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What's this blog about?

Well rather than being too eclectic I've been thinking that maybe I should make the focus of this blog something along the lines of "diary of a newbie SEMer". So I'll probably be making that the focus as I move along.

However life does have a way of changing plans (cue sparks & circuits being broken)...

I guess I'll be going shopping for a new tumble dryer tomorrow night...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Company Xmas Party

Well, I'm not going to write much about this, since Ben Simon already covered it on his blog. A nice time was had by all, although I had to leave early to take care of my sick wife (minor surgery).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

SES 2005 Chicago

Well, as part of my new job I spent last week in Chicago at the Search Engine Strategies conference. It was an enjoyable time, and I learnt quite a bit. The trick now is getting as much implemented as I can between now & the next conference (last week of Feb in New York), so I can have plenty of questions ready to ask then.

Hopefully next time there'll be no snow on the way home...

First post

Yep, I'm both late and new to the whole blogging experience, but at least I'm here :)

I suppose for the 0 people reading this now I should do the 'little bit about me bit'

early-mid 30's, married, one beautiful daughter, 4 cats (with a 5th currently on loan from the in-laws), one dog, one rabbit, one guinea pig, and 8 fish in the pond out back. I've been working at my company for 6 years now, starting off as a Senior Software Engineer, and more recently working as the Senior Manager of Search Engine Marketing, working primarily on the local search platform developed in conjunction with Alltel - (currently only on trial in Lincoln Nebraska).