From Yorkshire To Virginia

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Google Books = Free Books

So Google Books has started putting PDFs of public domain books up on the web, so that anyone can download them. One of the books that I found was one of my favorites - Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. It's the journey of a two dimensional square into line-land, point-land, and 3 dimensional space. Not a long read, but it's nicely written, and it's a great way to explain dimensions to a child, and to get them thinking :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When sending a gift basket isn't enough

A company called Cambrian House decided to thank Google for existing by paying for lunch for everone at the Google campus. Well, not just paying for lunch, but actually hand delivering lunch. Well, not just any old lunch, but pizza. Yes, 1,000 pizzas, all hand-delivered to Google in one go. Of course they didn't bother getting permission (who does for a surreptitious publicity stunt?). Anyway, the video is amusing, especially when those who really have a problem with this stunt show up... nope not security... it's the sous chefs at the Googleplex, who do call security to have them thrown out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The best show on TV?

So I'm now 4 weeks into the 8 week run of "Life on Mars". Yes, it's a British show, but it's a damn good one. The premise is interesting. Detective Sam Tyler is hit by a car in the first episode. When he wakes up, he's no longer in 2006, he's now in 1973. He still has his job with the police force, but he's confused. Is he really from 2006, and has time travelled to 1973, is he really lying in a hospital bed in a coma and dreaming he's in 1973, or is he from 1973 having suffered a head injury, believing himself to be from the future.

As the series goes on, it's quite clear which of these options is the more likely (although the clues could be placed there by his addled mind). It's a real fish out of water show, as although he's in familiar surroundings (Manchester), and in the same job, it's all different, which is one of the reasons for the name of the show (the other being that it was the Bowie song on the radio when he was hit).

If you haven't caught it yet, give it a whirl on BBCAmerica 10pm on a Monday night.

Google hiring

How do you locate the best developers for your business? Put an ad in the paper? Go to headhunters? Run a worldwide coding contest with a 10k top prize? Well the latter is what Google's doing. For the cost of the contest prizes (including 250 Google Jam T-shirts (Cash and prizes, including t-shirts, will not be provided to residents of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria)) they're identifying a nice batch of new employees, not a bad recruiting policy, and probably cheaper than the headhunters...

You register for it yet Ben?

The Pornography of Sects

Interesting title eh? Well, about a month ago I wrote about a book I was reading - "How Soccer Explains the World" by Franklin Foer, and I mentioned that I'd write something about it when I was done. Well, I finished the book about a week later, but I didn't write anything... until now. I read a story the today about recent events in Glasgow, where Uefa have actually given the fans of Glasgow Rangers a booklet of songs and chants that are acceptable. Failure to abide by the book, and sing sectarian songs will result in fines and other punishments.

In the book, there's a chapter "How Soccer explains the Pornography of Sects", which goes into great detail on the sectarian issues in Glasgow, and how they're primarily focused on the Rangers V Celtic. There was a great deal in the chapter that I wasn't aware of (heck, I've never even visited Scotland, let alone gone into great detail over it's history - outside of Hadrian's wall, and Macbeth). Yes, I knew the Catholic V Protestant rivalry between the 2 clubs, who could miss that? But I wasn't aware of the following of the 2 clubs in Belfast, although it really does make sense.

The other thing that I learnt from the book that I didn't know? That Tottenham Hotspurs are known as "The Yids" because of the Jewish heritage in the local area. While talking about hooliganism, and genocide committed by armies that started out as soccer supporters (Serbia), the author does end the book with hope, talking about how soccer can unite people such as in Iran, where attempts to quash the game have met with resistance from all corners...

(wonder how many confused hits I'll get from this post with pornography in the title?) ;)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More AOL data analysis

Things that make me feel happy to be married (coming up on 14 years)... you don't get someone like user 2708 upset enough to try to make your life hell (here's what AOL reported her searching for over the 3 months they released the data for)...
revenge tactics
the woman's book of revenge
dirty tricks for chicks
voice changer
how to humiliate someone
bill me pay later for cd's
scams to play on people
how to get revenge on an old lover
i hate my ex boyfriend
how to really make someone hurt for the pain they caused to someone else
columbia house
advice from women who have seeked revenge on old lovers
how to say goodbye hurtfully
how to report child neglect in the state of new hampshire
free articles on gay life that can be mailed to me
free christian things
free gay magazines
free angry stuff to send to an ex lover
how to permanently delete information from your hard drive
women's harley davidson boots
the worst thing to send someone via email
thong dancewear
what can i do to an old lover for revenge
mean revenge tactics
death records in hampstead new hampshire

Got to wonder what this guy did, but by heck it looks like he made the right decision to get away from good old 2708 (thanks to
Declan McCullough for this data)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

AOL data analysis

On SEO-Scoop there's a post analysing the data that AOL released to the general public (yes, the data that wasn't quite as anonymous as they thought... just ask user 4417749, more commonly known as Thelma Arnold)

Total Searches:9,038,794
Total Clicks: 4,926,623

Click Rank1: 2,075,765
Click Rank2: 586,100 = 3.5x less
Click Rank3: 418,643 = 4.9x less
Click Rank4: 298,532 = 6.9x less
Click Rank5: 242,169 = 8.5x less
Click Rank6: 199,541 = 10.4x less
Click Rank7: 168,080 = 12.3x less
Click Rank8: 148,489 = 14.0x less
Click Rank9: 140,356 = 14.8x less
Click Rank10: 147,551 = 14.1x less

So this data shows that in general you want to be as high as you can... pretty obvious eh? Well, the other things to take into account are the actual cost to be that high, the return on that spend, and the objective of the campaign. If you don't care about the cost, and are trying to generate buzz, or establish a brand, then aim high. If you are a business trying to make money, then you want to aim for the position that financially makes sense for you, again, fairly obvious. Interesting to see the data directly from a major search site though, as this means that the data is fairly broad, not covering just a particular niche or industry, which should therefore make it more statistically valid than some other studies that have been released on this topic.

Yeah, I'm qualified...

So Kim was talking to me this evening about putting up a door in a place we currently don't have a door. She asked if this was something that I could do. My response... I'm fully qualified to handle it.

Now, as to whether I can really remember which part is the jamb, and which is the door... that's another matter. I took this exam back when I was working for a millwork company in Lancaster, PA. - Delmarva Millwork Corporation. I was there for a couple of years, and almost got transferred into the shop part time, instead I went part time and went to programming school, which set me on the path to where I am now.

Having switched from development to marketing (well Search Engine Marketing), quite a few of my qualifications don't really match with my current position, but this has to be the one that's the most 'out there' qualification that I possess. What about you?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Google bites back!

With Click Fraud being big in the news, with Google having recently settled a class action lawsuit for $90 million, statistics have been flying around about the actual level of the problem. Several industry expert firms have released data that pegs the problem at over than 30% (fraudulant pay per click ads). Google has pegged the number as much lower than that, and has recently started to open up and let individual advertisers see the percentage of clicks that they have determined to be fraudulent (based on what they don't say). On some of my campaigns I've seen 5-6% of fraudulent clicks, which Google has identified and not charged me for.

But what to do about the disparity between the numbers? The fraud experts have much higher numbers based on the data that they've analysed. Well, Google has the actual data, so they've taken logs submitted to them by users of the top 3 click fraud detection software manufacturers, and Google engineers have analysed them against the actual data. The results are not pretty...

Rigorous technical analysis by Google engineers has found fundamental flaws in the work of several click fraud consultants – flaws that help explain why widely quoted estimates of the size of the click fraud problem are exaggerated. We would like to share this research so that advertisers can be aware of these problems and so these consultants can use the information to improve their services.

...One clear indication that the consultants’ results are flawed: they’re not even getting the total number of clicks correct. We have seen some instances of reports showing 1.5 times the number of clicks in our logs – for example, in one case 1,278 clicks were claimed as being “fraudulent” by the consultant while only 850 actually even appeared as clicks in Google’s logs.

It'll be interesting to see how these click fraud companies respond...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

How to give your mother-in-law palpitations

As usual, I'm so proud of Gwyneth. I took her to the pool yesterday, and she asked if she could try swimming without her armbands. So we took them off, and I watched as she tried to swim a full breadth of the pool. She made it, with only a couple of stops to catch her breath :) She's not yet figured out how to keep her body near the top of the water without the inflatables, so rather than doing her usual breast stroke, she settled for a modified doggie paddle, but hey it worked. (don't worry Diane, I was right next to her every bit of the way).

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Branding issue or just bad searching?

As Ben posted in his blog, our new admin assistant has posted a list in the kitchen where you can write down a supply request for anything that we're running low on. I saw one added on there today for Kleenex. My question is whether the author is a brand snob and must have Kleenex, or whether they just are poor searchers, as if they looked in the cupboard by the fridge...

I guess you could use this as an analagy for websites. If you have a great site out there that serves the needs of the users, but they can't find it, then what use is it? Sites need to be out there in the face of the users, or at least easy for the users to find. Sounds like a job for SEM :)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Eggstra Eggstra read all about it

So last month I read about the new CBS advertising campaign whereby they use laser etching to put information about their shows on eggs. Looking into it, I found out that last year there was a story about a guy who decided that etching the use by date onto eggs would help to prevent salmonella. Now I read that in the England they're putting invisible ink on eggs so that it will be cooked perfectly. You choose between hard, medium & soft, once the shell reaches the desired temperature the invisible ink turns black, and the egg can be removed and thrown in the egg cup ready to have soldiers dipped into it. So here again is another killer app. The makers of egg timers must be quaking in their mansions...

Sad news from our Amish friends

Kim & Gwyneth are up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a couple of days. Today she stopped by the house of our former Amish neighbors. Kim noticed that they had their old house razed, and a new one built. Naomi told her that the eldest daughter Katie (who was only 7-8 when we lived there) is now married and having her first child in a couple of months). Then Kim asked where her husband David was. Naomi told her that he'd got a deep cut in his finger about four months ago, and didn't do anything about it. He ended up with pneumonia and a severe staph infection that went into his heart and killed him. :(

To sleep for 3 hours... or not

Having spent the last 5 hours doing work from home (next time I start a lot earlier), I'm now left with the interesting question... do I go to bed for 3 hours (sleeping in until 6am), and wake up feeling knackered, or do I just stay awake and head into work early? I'm thinking that bed sounds good, although I'm going to write another blog post before bed (just so I can catch the end of the Avengers that I've had running in the background - Ronnie Barker plays a cat loving villain, so I can't really miss it) ;)

Update: Apparently going to bed for 3 hours means that you sleep through your alarm and actually wake up in 5 hours... Gives me a nice rush hour drive to work...