Monthly Archive for January, 2003

busy weekend

Life’s been busy for the past couple of days, and will stay so until next week.

Quick Update:

We sold our house in Fort Worth, and are moving out of it this weekend. Our lease ends in Austin on March 31, so we’re looking for a rent house (or a great deal on a home for sale) in Central Austin right now…

We’ll see what happens, but don’t expect any posts until Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Buying a Home – a little help…

I love natural wood siding on my homeBuying a home can be the most stressful thing you could ever do. I say this because in my experience, buying a home is the hardest thing I’ve ever done (twice).

The entire process is not generally user friendly.

Buying a home, unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, really makes you look at your finances and evaluate your short-term and long-term goals and then forces you to re-evaluate those goals. Throw on top of that fact that lenders are set up to get you to borrow more money than you would ever want to (they earn a percentage of the loan amount usually) and you’ve got a powerful coctail of explosive emotions just waiting to erupt… especially if there is a significant other involved in the purchase.

Luckily we that know about the Motley Fool have a fantastic (free) resource to educate ourselves and get our expectations in order before we get too far into the process:

The first place to start is the article: How Much Can You Afford?

This article will give you a basic understanding of the lender’s perspective on lending you money, explain how they figure out what they’re willing to lend you, as well as help you answer some hard questions like the old ‘rent vs. buy’ question as well as the ‘how much can I afford‘ question.

Next, you should read The Anatomy of a Mortgage and The Two Basic Types of Mortgages as well as Additional Types of Mortgages, The Lender: Bank or Mortgage Broker? and Loans for Sale for a really great primer on lending and borrowing from top to bottom, including 90% of the options available to the vast majority of us buying a home.

Once you’ve learned about the different types of loans available, you’ll need to start looking for your lender. You should read Shopping for a Loan, Finding your loan online, and Consider a Mortgage Pre-Approval. Learn as much as you can about the lender that you’re thinking about working with… I can tell you from experience that some are good and some are horrible. If you’ve chosen to work with a broker, then be advised that your load will likely get sold to a second or third lender, depending on many factors of course, in the first 5 years of your loan.

After you’ve decided that you’re definitely taking out a loan, read through

Six Strategies for Saving Money on Your Mortgage and The Down Payment to get a handle on how to save money throughout the term of your loan.

If you’ve ever heard of FHA loans, were in the military, or live in a rural area, you should read Special Loans for Everyone. It glosses over three programs that are set up to assist buyers in getting into a home when they might not be able to under ‘normal’ circumstances.

Now that most of the ‘finances’ part of this is out of the way (I know it’s a lot of shit… that’s why its so hard to do) you should definitely read Picking Your Home Type and The Neighborhood in the Find Your Home section.

Ok, now you think you’ve found the home you want… Go read the entire Making the Deal section. Read it again. Then, read it a third time.

That should be enough of a primer for the beginner and the second or third-timer. If you run across and terms that you’re unclear about, you can always turn to the Fool Home Center Glossary.

The thing to remember when looking for a home, or buying a home is that the most important decision is “Should I rent or buy?” and the second most important question is “How much can I afford?

If there’s a significant other involved in this discussion, then make sure that they’re involved and that you have the same goals and aspirations short-term and long-term concerning your finances.

Buying a home can be the most stressful thing you do in your life, but it doesn’t have to be.

Reading via RSS – some links

Here’s a quick collection of things I read while listening to the State of the Union. All found through my favorite RSS reader.

Vertical Hold: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

K5: Google Dance

AlwaysOn

r a n d o m e n t a l i t y

NYTimes.com: Worm Hits Microsoft, Which Ignored Own Advice

Word of the Day: pule \PYOOL\, intransitive verb: To whimper; to whine.

On Opera, On Mac, On inluminent

Wanda takes great picturesOn Monday, I downloaded the latest version of Opera for Mac so that I could test some of the problems that people have reported with the new “images: on/off” option that I’m offering on inluminent/weblog. Then I read this article on C|Net.

It basically says that Opera might be dead on the Macintosh due to the release of Safari.

The question for me now becomes… do I really care about ‘fixing’ a problem on my site that only really affects Opera for Mac users?

On one hand, I’d love to figure out how to make the CSS switching Javascript work in Opera browsers. On the other hand, only about 0.74%% of my readers use Opera on Windows or Macintosh. Only 2% of those users use Opera on a Macintosh. That’s an amazingly small number.

Is it worth my time to fix a Javascript problem with Opera, or can I count on Opera to either fix it, or quit developing a Mac browser?

Honestly at this point I don’t have the time to worry about Opera browser support on top of my regular work life… sorry folks. Use IE, Mozilla, or wait on Safari to come out of beta to get the “images: on/off” feature.

How to NOT hire a qualified job-seeker

nice shortsSo, you need to hire someone with some technical savvy to run your website?

Don’t do what the company that Angie is talking about here did:

People who might actually have these skills will never respond to this ad. There are a few people out there who may have 95% of the skills you’re looking for, with nearly all the experience you require. There may be quite a few people who have 75% of the skills you are looking for. These are all very talented people, to have even met 75% of the goals set out by this job ad. But by putting together a job ad like the one above ó something that absolutely screams ěWe don’t know what we’re doing!î ó you’ve guaranteed that none of these very talented people would ever want to come to work for you.

Even in this recession, where there are more out-of-work tech people than ever, employers and employees both have to remember that there is such a thing as mutual respect. If you want us to learn your business, take a bit of time to learn ours. At the very least, avoid laundry lists of requirements if you have no idea what they mean. Build up a relationship of trust with us and we will reward you with loyalty and dedication, not to mention the inevitable overtime that most tech people go through at least occasionally. Don’t insult us, and we won’t insult you.

Angie disects the job posting that she saw quite well, and it’s great lesson for anyone that might work in HR to learn, and for anyone in a ‘hiring authority’ position to know, just in case you have to hire through your HR department.

Why Sysadmins Don’t Upgrade

So, a worm hit the internet this weekend… and then…

Michael Radwin (who I found through Jeremy) posts a great little diatribe on why server admins don’t upgrade. Read it. Great fun.

The Q tag

It’s never to late to learn about the Q Tag from diveintomark.

So, now the question is… should I go back and fix all of my old code?

Sales Links: Upselling

Good ol' KylaFrom the latest XPLANE|EXTRA!:

How to choose an upselling strategy

Customers don’t always know what’s best for themselves. Sell them the right solution in a way that suits their needs and helps them reach their goals. Always begin by establishing their goals and sizing up their personalities before selecting your upselling strategy.

Go there for the actual XPlanation™.

There’s also a link to Successful Upselling which is a fantastic read.

For what it’s worth, sales information on the web is quite hard to come by… XPLANE has been doing a fantastic job of highlighting great information in the BBlog‘s Sales Category.

Note to Steven: Beware of MacNN Reader Reports

I read this on Steven’s weblog:

macnn.com reports on a sighting of an Apple retail job opening in Portland, Oregon. An Apple Store in my home town? This is me dancing. I can’t find the job listing in their database, so maybe they pulled it. But, when you do a search of their job database, it is possible to specify both “Portland” and “Portland – Pioneer Place” as locations. It always seemed to me like Pioneer Place was a perfect fit for an Apple Store.

I have to warn you Steven: MacNN Reader Reports are almost never verified… I have friends that send in bogus reports to MacNN all the time just to see if they’ll publish them without checking… It’s a sport in some countries… Beware MacNN Reader Reports.

That being said, I hope they do open a Portland store… the Northwest has needed an Apple Store for a long time. It’s the last bastion of Redmond power.

Seduction

“It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction.”

   — Pablo Picasso

One More Attack on the Mac Web for an RSS Feed

Jennifer Love HewittI’ve been accused of attacking the Macintosh Web for not offering full RSS feeds with my last 4 or 5 posts on RSS.

That wasn’t my intention. My intention is to get the conversation about full RSS feeds out in the open instead of behind closed doors. Some of the people that have been participating in the conversation have some great ideas… and I hope that the Mac Web Publisher’s sit up and listen (or at least comment on why they can’t do what’s being asked of them in public).

That being said, I’d like to make a public plea for a few more Macintosh sites to add RSS feeds, or better their current feeds:

MacDesktops – the best place for Macintosh Desktops. I’d like to see category feeds, or at the least the last 20 desktops in a feed. I’m thinking that this one site probably has the best opportunity to garner some support for these feeds offered through a subscription program. It’d be damned cool.

MacUpdate – This site’s got some great sponsors and I think they could generate a little bit more income from their RSS readers, if they offered their sponsors the ability to sponsor an RSS feed… I envision seeing more content in the feed that they currently offer like “related software links” and possibly “user reviews of software” or at least links to them in the feeds.

SmallDog – SmallDog is the best damned online Mac retailer (and probably the best in Vermont too) I’ve ever worked with. I’d love to see them offer their price list, or perhaps a top 20 items, or maybe even a 20 new products list via RSS. The coolest thing about that would be that even the websites that they sponsor could cull that data, reformat it and present it online somewhere even if people didn’t get into subscribing to their RSS feed as individuals. Actually… I think the best thing they could offer today would be an RSS feed of the current Today’s Featured Value. That would be cool.

For more reading on the subject of RSS, I’d like to point you here, and some of these posts.

Join the conversation…

The War in Iraq

I’m just as worried as everyone else about the impending war, but this article seems pretty valid and interesting:

Kuro5hin.org: Why the UKUSA won’t tell anybody where the nukes are

It’s a conversation – K5 Text Ads

Over on Hypergene, I read a post about Kuro5hin’s text ads, and Rusty’s text ad + comment feature, and was quite intrigued by the conclusion of the article:

Markets are conversations

I agree.

Found: Jimmy Guterman’s weblog

I really enjoyed reading Guterman back when he was writing for the Industry Standard. So, I typed in www.guterman.com and lo and behold, I found that Jimmy’s got a weblog.

Too cool Jimmy.

After you click thru to his weblog, go on to read his latest article for Business2.0:

Don’t Scare ‘Em, But Tell the Truth

It’s good stuff too.

New inluminent/weblog default view — No Images

Liz from InconceivablyA long, long time ago… Kasia asked me to get rid of the images on inluminent/weblog.

I immediately wanted to do what she asked, as I didn’t mean to offend Kasia, or any other female readers. But, I didn’t know how to do it quickly, and I was in the middle of getting ready to start a new job, and move to a new city. Scott also asked me to make the images optional.

At the time, I couldn’t figure out how to do it easily. No one else emailed me with a complaint, but I’ve seen a few comments on other blogs since they asked.

Alas…. I’ve figured out an easy way to do it, thanks to the clean code on Zeldman.com. I’ve watched how Zeldman does things like hiding menus and switching stylesheets with awe (ok, it’s not that hard, but it was something I didn’t know how to do) and finally sat down today to play with the idea of ‘hiding’ the images from readers.

And, I figured it out. I’m using two stylesheets to do this. The default stylesheet includes this piece of code:

img {

  display: none;

  border: 0;

  }

And the alternate stylesheet includes this piece of code:

img {

  display: block;

  border: 0;

  }

I’m not sure that I know what that little difference does, but I do know that if you click the little no images or images link on the right sidebar above the calendar, you’ll get the effect that you’re looking for.

I’ll get rid of the image in the header graphic eventually, but wanted to tell Kasia and Scott that I’ve succeded. Individual posts still contain the images, as well as a call to an old stylesheet, but I’ll fix those soon.

[update: I’ve modified the switch.js file so that it is a complete copy of the zeldman switch.js file, which means that it now sets a cookie when you change the style, which saves your default style to your browser… so next time you come back, your prefered style should be preserved — thanks for the request Erik]

[2nd update: All pages now default to no images, but if you select the image rich stylesheet, that behavior will follow you throughout the site, and still work when you come back. Choose your own desire. — Sidebar: RSS feeds will still include images for a while… unless someone requests that I offer an RSS feed without images]

[3rd update: seems to work fine in Mozilla 1.1 on OS X, IE on OS X, and crashes Safari on OS X… no idea why… haven’t checked any Windows browsers… leave a comment if this switching of stylesheets breaks your browser]

MS SQL worm attacks… one more reason not to use Windows

Gwyneth Paltrow's Face is PerfectAs seen on /., I received this email from my host this morning:

At approximately 11:28 pm on 1/24/2003, NOC engineers observed significant inbound and outbound traffic across all backbone carriers and internal router/switching infrastructure. Our emergency network response team was immediately deployed and began troubleshooting the problem. Upon the first notification to our carriers, we were informed of a global internet problem by a fast spreading SQL worm targeted at Microsoft SQL. As a result, the entire internet continues to suffer from an extreme decrease in service. Please see the following links for international coverage of the breaking story.

As seen on CNN

As reported by ABC

As seen on Yahoo!

As reported by Symantec

And MSNBC’s report

The Planet is working continuously detecting, locating, and removing all infected SQL servers from our network along with blocking all inbound traffic directed to the specific SQL ports under attack. As we continue to assist those customers affected, The Planet seeks to inform all customers of this global rising problem and to assure you that service is available to the maximum extent possible. Planet engineers are working with Microsoft and Cisco to apply all patches available along with all protective measures as they will be released in the next few hours/days/weeks. The Planet is dedicated to ensuring maximum uptime and all NOC staff and network engineers will remain onsite under Level 1 alert until all network connectivity returns to normal. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

If you have a Microsoft SQL product in our datacenters, please contact our NOC staff via Orbit ticket, email or phone for further assistance.

https://orbit.theplanet.com/

[email protected]

1.800.854.7679

Several Security companies have released the following information in reference to this problem.

Symantec Advisory

EEye Report

Cert Advisory

Service pack 3 is available for SQL 2000 at the following.

SP3 for MS SQL 2000

Stand alone patch for SQL 2000

Patch for MS SQL 2000


Another reason to not use Windows.

[Added Later]

More links:

Scripting News

News.Google.com

Lawrence Lessig provides a chart from the Internet Traffic Report

Ben Hammersley comments

Jim Roepcke comments

Scoble notes the news

I’m sure more have commented, but those are the RSS feeds I read.

Austin AMA High-Tech Breakfast “Economical Online Marketing”

On January 16th, I attended the Austin AMA High-Tech Breakfast where a panel was discussing the topic “Economical Online Marketing – Utilizing and Maximizing Your Investment”. I promised a write up.

The meeting was held in the Wedgewood Room of the Arboretum Rennaissance Hotel in North Austin (great place to stay if you’re ever in town and want to be in a trendy part of town vs. in downtown).

The discussion was focused on email marketing, but since it was a panel with a Q&A presentation it did drift into some non-email related areas. The panel was composed of Rebecca MacDonald from Cogent Communications, Bill Leake from LCGrowth, Nancy Grimes with LaunchPad Representatives, Adrian Cardwell from SBC, and someone from Dell whose name I didn’t catch (and wasn’t the same person that was listed on the program). (Interesting sidebar: None of the smaller companies listed above have accessible websites. I couldn’t find two of them using Google and the third one gave me a “Couldn’t find DNS entry error”. What does that say about these ‘online marketers’?)

(Click the “More” link to read their AMA provided bios as well as the rest of this long entry.)
Continue reading ‘Austin AMA High-Tech Breakfast “Economical Online Marketing”’

More complete RSS feed discussion

Jon Gales joins the RSS discussion here.

Welcome to the discussion Jon. In response to Jon’s reference to an email from one of the MacMinute staff members, that thanked Jon for standing up for MacMinute, I’d like to point out that I’m not against MacMinute… I just chose them as my target for this discussion about full RSS feeds because I really enjoy reading MacMinute over any other general Mac news site. It’s better than all the others, and doesn’t have any of the fluff but has all of the substance.

That being said, there are others providing better RSS feeds:

myapplemenu

SpyMac

MacDevCenter

Just to name a few.

I’d really like to see a full RSS feed from MacMinute, possibly with an advertisement from a good commodity provider who’s prices change often like RamJet* (my favorite place to buy Ram, btw). It’d be a natural, and would truly be targeted to the Mac geeks out there that acutally use RSS feeds (who are more likely to buy Ram when its cheap just because its cheap).

Think outside the box publishers. RSS is what the ‘web’ was back in 1995 or so… and, I think Stan’s the only publisher to really come out of the 90’s ahead, so I’d expect him to do it again… Get ahead of the curve.

I applaud their addition of some copy to the MacMinute homepage in their current RSS feed, but I also get enough news from myapplemenu to not need to ever visit their page again, except to perhaps read some of the conversations hitting their forums every once and a while.

I haven’t sent Stan a personal email about this matter, nor do I think I need to. I know that the MacMinute staff is reading what I write every once and a while, as is the MacWorld/MacCentral staff. One of them will do it before the other, and then the other will follow… such is the Macintosh Publishing world.

I look forward to picking the first provider as my prefered provider in the near future and hope you do as well.

Oh, and btw, that screen-scraped feed that was provided by them.ws was broken last time I checked it (as it should be — I don’t agree with scraping in principle) … something tells me MacMinute would rather waste time breaking screen-scraped feeds than embracing the idea and doing it themselves. Which is sort of funny to me.

This will hopefully be my last post on this topic, unless I post to announce that there is a real MacMinute provided complete RSS feed with advertising in it soon. (But I’ll likely find that out from myapplemenu.)

*disclaimer: I consider the RamJet folks very good friends, so I’m biased I’m sure, but I’ve also never been disappointed with my purchases from them and I’ve spent well over $1000 with them over the years, I’m sure.

Houston tells Microsoft to “Fuck Off”

hi there strangerExcuse the harsh language in the title of this post, but this is just too good not to mention. I heard about this earlier in the week from a co-worker that’s a Mac-zealot, and thought that it was funny…

From C|Net: Houston: We have a problem with Office

Amazingly (to me at least) “Houston has begun to phase out Microsoft Office for its 13,000 city workers in favor of Web-based software from a local start-up.”

The Texas city signed a five-year, $9.5 million contract last year with Houston-based SimDesk Technologies to provide city workers and, eventually, up to 3 million city residents with the company’s software and services.

SimDesk offers a package of more than two dozen applications covering basic PC tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and e-mail. The applications include a subscription to SimDesk’s Web-based services, which allow customers to store documents, messages and other data on a central server run by SimDesk. This data can be retrieved and manipulated from any device with a Web connection, including cell phones and handheld computers.

Ray Davis, SimDesk’s founder and president, said the key to making it work is an extremely efficient protocol for transferring data to and from SimDesk’s central server. The company has a single 32-processor Unisys server capable of handling 21 million users.

“It’s not the typical client-server relationship,” Davis said. “We use a patented, proprietary transfer protocol…that uses a very specific load-balancing technology we developed. Whether you’re using a cell phone or the fastest Internet connection at the office, it reacts the same. You don’t have to worry about bandwidth.”

This is truly amazing. SimDesk stands to make $9.5 million off this deal, and if I’m doing my math correctly, Microsoft stands to lose up to $15,000,000 (3,000,000+ users times $500 per copy of Office) annually.

That’s gotta hurt.

If this program works, Microsoft (as well Dell, HP, Compaq, and others) are looking at a major degredation of their markets at the lower levels as well as a shrinkage in the higher levels of their markets I’d guess.

Then again, it might not work for Houston anyways… We’ve all seen failed IT initiatives for one reason or another. What I really like about this idea though is that the entire City seems to be behind it (at least in the Mayor’s office). That’s cool.

Some Data on RSS Readers

Here’s a quick snippet of what I’m seeing on the two sites I run with RSS feeds:

About 38% of all ‘visits’ to MarketingFix are produced by people using RSS Aggregator software.

About 52% of all ‘visits’ to inluminent/weblog come from people using RSS Aggregators.

Traffic from RSS Aggregators seems to stay fairly consistent thoughout the day, whereas true browser based traffic wans in the late evening and doesn’t pick up again until the morning.

“Unique Visitors” from RSS readers seems to be around 18% on MarketingFix and about 22% on inluminent/weblog.

“Page Views” from RSS readers seems to be about 8% on Marketingfix and about 10% on inluminent/weblog.

A visit is any ‘session’ that includes a hit in the log files within at least 20 minutes of each other. I assume that the higher percentage of visits for RSS readers is because most RSS aggregators only update their feeds every 30 minutes by default, that that can be lower.

A Unique Visitor is a unique IP address, and isn’t really a useful number for me anymore… shit I’m three or four different IP addresses every day on my own, so I figure some of the rest of you are as well to. It’s just a traffic number that I keep an eye on, but don’t put a whole lof of faith in.

A Page View is a request for a file of type php, html, rdf, shtml, or other standard non-image document. Since page view % is fairly low, I don’t see that RSS reader would take away a lot of my browser based traffic, if I were selling advertising.

More on Full vs. Incomplete RSS Feeds

swansons? sure, I'm hungryYesterday’s post on half-assed RSS feeds has drawn more comments than I expected.

<sidebar> I have an untested theory on why there are more comments than I expected. That theory is that I’m now including the comments to posts in my main RSS feed. I wonder if that correlates to more comments? Please feel free to post a comment saying why you think that is. </sidebar>

The first comment is from James and includes a link to a more full fledged (albeit scraped) MacMinute RSS feed than MacMinute provides, which I disagree with as a solution on principle, only because it’s not sanctioned by MacMinute’s publisher, Stan Flack, who I consider to be a friend (though, I do appreciate the scraped feed as a reader, I can’t condone it personally). Also, James does offer to pull scraped feeds, in his lastest post, if the site owners involved just ask him to. And back in August, James made some comments about syndicating the news posted on a website.

My whole argument about complete feature rich RSS feeds comes from the idea that I want to read my news in RSS versus a un-usable form of title+link, especially where there are other aggregators (like myapplemenu) that aggregate the news by hand (with attribution) and publish their contents in full.

To me, that’s the biggest competitor to sites, like MacMinute, in the RSS space. It’s not like someone won’t beat Stan to the idea if he just waits a little while longer… someone already has beaten Stan to the idea, they just aren’t making money off of it.

I’ve heard the argument that pageviews are what pays for MacMinute to stay alive and to support their server costs at Pair. I don’t pretend to know a think about MacMinute’s finances, but I can say with fair certainty that they aren’t swimming in the ad dollars. And I can assume they’re not nearly as cash-flow rich as MacPublishing LLC (which is another RSS feed I dropped for lack of features).

That being said, I think there is a revenue stream in a full RSS feed though it’s a small one right now. I’d like to see one of those two publishers come out with a full-featured RSS feed.

Come on, we’re not talking about 90% of their potential users using RSS, we’re talking about 5-10% tops. And those 5-10% of readers are costing them a shit load of money in bandwidth, because they load the standard pages so many times a day (and likely never click that much) that I think RSS would pay for itself in cost savings alone for those readers. I also think that the RSS feed readers going away from the page readers would increase the response rate for the advertisers, as well as tightening up ad inventory and making the audience more valuable. (I’m pretty sure they could their current RSS readers in their total ‘unique visitor’ count, because they can’t parse those hits out from the regular traffic consistently. I also would venture a guess that they’re counting those RSS ‘hits’ as ‘page views’ because their log analysis software most likely doesn’t parse it out for them).

Add on top of that, that those RSS feeds could be turned into their own revenue stream, by offering advertising inside the feeds. I don’t want to tell Stan or MacPublishing how to offer that advertising… I’m not a free consultant, though I could be bought off with a free dinner… But, I’m telling you that I wouldn’t mind looking at a useful targeted text ad in an RSS feed every day. Make it the 5th post in an RSS feed, and you’re golden. No one will bitch.

I sell advertising for a living folks… this could be sold, and the profit margin could be much better than that of banner ads. We’re not talking about a whole lot of money, but it is money, and it’s got a much lower cost of sale involved, as well as a relatively small number of readers on the whole.

Just my thoughts.

I understand that it’s a business decision, not a tech decision and appreciate Slava’s help at getting the real MacMinute feed more featured.

two pictures for the price of oneMore reading on RSS feeds:

Rusty Coats writes about RSS feeds and comments that feed Classified ads into RSS is something that some newspaper somewhere will pull off, and it’ll be huge. Rusty’s really brought up some great points about why RSS is important.

Richard asks about adding a Full RSS feed to his Movablog and links to this post by Jonathon Delacour (which will help Andy understand why he doesn’t see the comments of each post in his Radio RSS aggregator I believe).

Pete talks a little about how he’s distributing his content via RSS in this post and has a few thoughts that relate to monetizing that traffic:

Provide the full text for the X most recent items, and just the title and description for the rest of the items. What about paying for a full RSS feed versus using the free titles only feed? What about ads in the feed? (Please, don’t kill me!)

J.D. Lasica talks about this new application that brings all the news you want to know about straight to your computer, so you can control your reading experience… It’s called an Aggregator:

The explosion of weblogs and niche news sites poses a problem for any info-warrior: Who the heck has time to read all this stuff?

Well, here’s one possible solution: news readers — a new crop of software programs that fetch updated dispatches from your favorite online writers, bloggers or news outfits.

There’s some great information about RSS feed use by the Christian Science Monitor (a real paper that’s making real money) and their thoughts about it in J.D.’s piece.

“I look at the Web as an opportunity to have a million doorways to the Christian Science Monitor,” says publisher Stephen Gray. “I think of it as a progression from one end, where it’s free, to the other end, where it’s paid. The pipeline has to be really big at the out end to bring in lots of beginners if you want to maximize the number of subscribers at the other end.”

BTW, the CSMonitor’s subscription is up in a year that most newspapers lost 2% of their subscribers.

Interstingly I can’t find an OJR RSS feed.

Back on the subject, Jay Allen makes an argument for complete RSS feeds here. There are some great points there Jay:

Anyway, that’s enough of a rant. If you want to broaden your user base, publish your content in RSS format. If you want to delight your readers, publish everything and not just excerpts.

(I love the link to the delight article)

That’s it for tonight… but more later, I’m sure.

Oh, and by the way, Mark Pilgrim is now offering a premium service for his content… and I bet he’ll make money doing it.

ilist ?

So, I’m seeing this page in my referrers:

http://ilist.yahoo.com/

The visitor’s IP from that page resolves to yahoo.com so I’m wondering what ilist.yahoo.com is.

Anyone have an idea?

[update: Jeremy tells me that it’s an internal mailing list manager and that someone was probably reading their archives and clicked through to inluminent]

Poor Kasia – stuck in an airplane

Ugh… I feel for Kasia… I’ve experienced the same sort of thing once.

I sat in an airplane in July in Cancun, Mexico, while the air conditioning was broken for 4 hours waiting on them to fix the AC so we could fly back to the States. Please understand that this was 4 hours in one hot ass airplane full of hung-over and un-showered people that were flying back to Houston, TX from Cancun after partying for a full week pretty hard.

It wasn’t pleasant.

I know where you’re coming from Kasia.

There’s a new CMS on the horizon

Wow.

Text Pattern

Brought to you by Dean Allen.

Looks totally cool, very useful, and fun.

I’ll definitely be looking into it for a client in the near future.

Dean, if you’re reading, I’ll need to know what the pricing will be buddy.

Oh yeah, one more time:

WOW!

Yahoo + Blogs … Interesting

Jeremy posted a little information from a discussion he’s been having at work lately.

In the discussion he argues that weblogs will replace message boards for really interesting (and sticky) discussions… (maybe even this year).

I’d say that I’m not sure this is going to happen that quickly, unless someone like Yahoo! really gets behind it. There’s still a huge technology hurdle to cross, as it’s really not that easy to install weblog software like MovableType, even though the instructions are great. Installing the software on a server requires an interest in learning a little about programming or server administration at the least. It’s not a ‘killer app’ yet by any means.

Posting to a message board is a snap…

Don’t get me wrong, weblogs are able to take over message board popularity, but it’ll require someone like Yahoo! to really get behind it and start getting the masses on to them. Until that time, it’ll still be a niche content production platform.

That being said, Salon and RadioUserland are doing a great job of getting people using them. Live Journal and Blogger are as well… but it’ll take someone like Yahoo! to get it into the masses hands.

I say “Go for It!”

Something Hung – half-assed RSS feed isn’t good enough

So, I spent about an hour watching Bachellorette and writing a response to Slava’s post about the addition of some content to the MacMinute RSS feed… But then something on my iBook hung (I suspect an old beta of NetNewsWire Pro which has since been updated), and I lost it all. Argh…

The basics of the past were a ‘thank you’ to Slava, then a ‘not good enough yet’ argument with a few links to other arguments about RSS feeds, followed by a few business ideas about how to monetize a complete RSS feed as well as some statistics from MarketingFix and inluminent/weblog about the readership habits of those readers.

But again, I lost the post, so I’ll guess that perhaps God didn’t want me posting it. So, you get this quick note, instead of a full fledged post… I’ve got work to do.

Libraries should offer Wi-Fi access

The last time I visited a public library, I remarked on the fact that they didn’t offer an Wi-Fi access at all. The only internet access they offered was vanilla ‘http’ access on very old Windows based computers. It was frustrating. They didn’t offer any other access either… no eithernet jacks, or even free phone lines.

Today, I read on Adam Kalsey’s weblog an interesting twist to the argument about why libraries should offer free public Wi-Fi access.

I’d even go so far as to say that libraries should offer for-fee Wi-Fi access at the least. Think of it this way:

Libraries exist to provide knowledge to the public at large. The majority of library patrons are no what would be considered high-income, and arguably, most of them couldn’t afford laptops equipped with Wi-Fi. Those that could afford such machines and periperhals, would likely pay a small service fee to access a libraries Wi-Fi network, which could generate a new and small revenue stream for the library (which should arguably be able to cover the libraries small maintenance and hardware costs as well as earn them some extra cash to pay for better services elsewhere in the building).

I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing someone like T-Mobile offering inexpensive (I’m talking $1.00 per day access rates) service inside libraries as a way to give the libraries a new service at no cost. I also wouldn’t be opposed to paying $3 – $5 per day to access this Wi-Fi service, if I knew that at least half of that money went back to the library. It’d sure be better than funding the service on the backs of all the tax-payers that’d never actually use the service.

So, free or paid-for, I wouldn’t care, but I’d like to see Wi-Fi in all public libraries.

Getting a Perfect Credit Score

Kat, beautiful Kat.Man, I could really use the information that the Motley Fool will be sharing in their FICO 850: Achieving Perfect Credit seminar. The seminar will cost $55, but looks well worth it.

The following ‘truths’ are explained in the first lesson of the seminar:

Truth #1: Credit reporting is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Truth #2: Lots of mistakes are made.

Truth #3: Nobody is looking out for you. Except you.

Truth #4: The laws protect you, not “them.”

Truth #5: It’s all just gossip.

Truth #6: Time, time, time is on your side. Yes, it is.

Truth #7: It’s an opt-out world.

Oh, and you’ll get a free credit report and credit score report if you sign up now. The seminar starts on January 30th.

[disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the Motley Fool, I just love their lessons. I won’t financially profit if you click a link and sign up for the course… I’m just sharing something I think is valuable to anyone interested in their personal finances.]

Lara Flynn Boyle – lovely dress ?

I just watched E!’s best/worst coverage on the TV and had to comment about Lara Flynn Boyle’s dress:

Lovely girl, horrible dress

Can you believe she wore that? I mean, she looks great, but the dress?

[Note, I don’t normally comment on photos I put up here, but I couldn’t resist this time]

Can’t wait till next Monday night — The Practice changed nights.

[photo courtesy of Robyn]

Small Business Website Doubles Sales

So… you think small businesses don’t need an online strategy? I guess they don’t if they don’t want to grow.

Take this example of the All American Hot Dog Company written up in the Miami Herald.

Last year All American Hot Dog’s revenue nearly doubled from $800,000 in 2001 to $1.5 million, and Di Raimondo projects sales to reach $2.5 million in 2003 as the lackluster economy inspires more people to try making a living from a job that is layoff proof.

Hmmm… sure, if he didn’t have a good idea he wouldn’t be making money… but if he didn’t have a website he’d sure as hell be making a lot less money.

He began using the Internet for marketing in 1995. Last year about 65 percent of his business came through the Net.

Hmmm… Double your sales, or save the $1000 it might cost to have a decent and basic website? Hard decision isn’t it?

(Oh, and btw, consultants that sell web building services should use articles like this as ‘informational’ contacts with potential clients. Just send it to them saying… I thought you might like to read about what ‘this guy’ is doing on the internet.)

Texas Music and Sports (and just a little beer)

DidoThree day weekends are great (but the body can’t handle them like it used to):

On Saturday night I attended the Texas A&M vs. t.u. Men’s Basketball game here in Austin. The Aggies got skunked pretty badly, but it was a fun game. I sat 5 seats from Rick Perry, and had the opportunity to introduce myself to him, which was pretty cool.

After the game, we headed over to Shultz’s and downed a pitcher or two before driving over to Hooter’s for dinner. After Hooters we finally ended up at the Broken Spoke, a little country and western place in south Austin.

Great night, but man did my head hurt on Sunday morning…

At 11 a.m., on Sunday, a buddy of mine in the music business called and woke me up. I hadn’t seen him in 6 months or so, so we decided to get together and watch the Bucs trounce the Eagles at Fox and the Hound in downtown. I started drinking again at 1:00. Ugh…

The game was great as was getting to see my old buddy. After the game, we were headed back to the apartment to watch the Oakland game, but he realized that he was supposed to play a few songs at the Gruene with Envy Texas Music Awards at Steamboat. So, we took a little side trip to Steamboat and I sat back stage with the likes of Jason Boland, Stoney LaRue, Django Walker, Roger Creager, Houston Marchman and Dub Miller.

What a great time. The beer was free with my back stage credentials, so, I did my best to maintain an even buzz without getting to embarassing to myself. I ended up sitting on the stage in the back for most of the show, enjoying the music and the jokes with the artists.

Man, I love living in Austin.

RDF Templates Updated

deniseI’ve had a few RSS feeds for this site for a while, but today, I decided it was time to clean them up a bit.

I searched Unsanity.org’s Archives for a post that had a link to their RDF+comments template and found this entry (after manually searching — upgrade your MT installation Unsanity).

So, I’ve now created an RDF 1.0 feed with comments embedded, I also have a no-comments feed available, as well as a comments only RDF feed. There’s also a 2.0 feed and a .91 feed available for those that want the simpler parts of life, but they don’t have comments at all.

index.rdf is the full RDF 1.0 feed with comments
index-nocomments.rdf is the full RDF 1.0 feed without comments
index.xml is my RDF 2.0 feed
comments.rdf is the RDF 1.0 comments only feed.

(I lied, I don’t have an RSS .91 feed, but I think that’s because the 2.0 feed should be backwards compatible… I might be wrong on that)

You should now be able to read all comments in a news aggregator application as well as post a comment in your web browser via a direct link in the RDF feed.

Enjoy.

Jeremy’s Five Tips to Squashing Innovation

These are five great tips to keeping innovation out of the business:

1. Explain to your employees that times are tough so innovation must go on the back burner.

2. Further explain that there’s no reason to despair–a high-level executive will be spending a lot of his time working on an innovation plan for the company (whatever that means).

3. Let a lot of time pass and say nothing about it. Pretend that things are just fine.

4. In the meantime, do nothing to alter the company’s fundamental cultural and organizational problems–you know, the ones that have been in the way of an open an innovative busniess the whole time.

5. When asked about the mysterious “innovation plan” at an all-company meeting, explain that the executive is still working on it. Really! He is! Divulge no more.

Ugh… sort of takes the life outta you doesn’t it?

Towing … Don’t park in downtown Austin

love those flowersTake this advice if you’re ever going out in Austin:

Do NOT park anywhere in downtown unless you can afford to be towed.

Last night the wife and I went out with some friends, first we all met for happy hour at Trudy’s in north Austin (183 and Burnett) and then we headed downtown around 10. We parked outside of Club M&M (that was where we were towed from) and headed over to the Red Fezz, which is a cool little Indian flavored bar on 5th and Lavaca. We had a few drinks and listened to the music for an hour os so until we realized that we really couldn’t hear each other (the stereo was louder than any bar I’ve ever been in) so we headed over to the Lucky Lounge next door, where the audio system wasn’t cranked up so high, and the bartenders were very gracious. We made friends with the door man and had a great time.

Around 2 a.m., we stumbled out of the bar into an alley and walked to where my car was parked. It was gone.

I walked across the street to a cop and asked him if he knew where my car was. He pointed to a sign that said “Don’t park here or we’ll tow your shit” and had a phone number in big red letters.

So, we took a $4 cab ride back to our apartment, and today I went to pick up the car. $150 later, I have my own car back in my posession.

Sucks.

You’d think, after getting my car towed 3 times, I’d learn.

Once again:

Do NOT park anywhere in downtown unless you can afford to be towed.

[This message brought to you by the dumbass that keeps getting towed in Austin]

Mac OS X Tools: iCommune

After reading these comments by Todd Dominey on the iCommune plugin that was released for iTunes in beta format recently, but was pulled from the net due to Apple asking the developer to cease distribution of the application, I realized that it just might solve my need/want to listen to my MP3’s on my iMac while I’m using my iBook and save me the hassle of setting up Shoutcast.

I didn’t pay much attention to it when it was released, but I realize now I should have… I’ll try to find a copy of the plugin somewhere and install it myself to see how well it works.

[Updated Jan. 19th @ 12:02 PM CST: I’ve been sent a copy of iCommune 1.0 beta 2, but haven’t played with it. Thanks for the help folks.]

History of ClarisWorks

This history of ClarisWorks is an interesting read to me, and should be so for anyone interested in Apple’s history.

Email Marketing and Spam (First Spam Conference)

Scott posted a quick note on the first ever “Spam Conference” held at MIT recently. Hopefully he’ll be posting a lot more soon. Check the FuzzyBlog! for more later.

Small Business Website Brings a Global Audience

In Local lures hook buyers around the globe you can read about Jamie Flette, maker of hand-made fly fishing lures uses the internet to reach a global market. Here’s a fantastic example of how a small business can reach a global audience through the internet alone.

The caviat to this story of course is that if you have a shitty product and badly run buisiness, a website can probably hurt you more than help you. Word-of-mouth on the internet is on a global scale too. Remember that.

Busy Day: Links on marketing, business, code, and whatever else I found

lisa lisaHere’s a list of links for you to peruse on Friday:

Hoover’s & D&B: Perfect Together? from the Perkins Group [PDF] [via TEOF]

Fantastic List of MovableType Template Tags [via lovelinks]

PR Opinions – a cool PR focused weblog [via my referers]

Apple Airport Weblog — brand new, and looking good.

abstemious – Word of the Day from 1/16.

Two Movable Type Tips – including ‘expandable categories‘ which I’ve been looking for an example of for MarketingFix since we launched it… woohoo! work to do this weekend folks.

I got this link to the Visual Thesaurus in an email entitled “Today’s interesting use of the Internet”. The email was aptly named.

Marketing Inspiration for 2003 from MarketingSherpa (probably requires its own post later). Download the PDF for some great info… then subscribe to their newsletters… you need to be reading them. I don’t care who you are or what you do. Read the newsletters.

Buck’s on the Brazos looks like a kick ass little place to get away from it all on a weekend, and still not be too far from the comforts of home (and maybe even more comfort). It’s only a couple of hours north of Austin, or an hour or so south of Dallas… Looks like fun.

Gotta link I should check out this weekend? Leave it in a comment.

Wanted: Screen Catcher for Mac OS X (Full-Page Screen Shots)

I’m a big fan of Screen Catcher from St. Clair Software. Back when I was part of the team at a little know Macintosh website, I used St. Clair’s software to create media kits and marketing materials for our advertising sales efforts. The full page screen shots of websites (which are most often longer than one screen) were extremely effective for me in presentations of small banner placements, or placements that might appear at the bottom of the web pages. I used this software exclusively under Mac OS 9 for all of my screen shots.

Don’t get me wrong, the stuff from Ambrosia that takes screenshots and made movies is good, but I didn’t need it. I needed full-page screen shots. Screen Catcher did that perfectly. (And this ‘solution’ from Ambrosia’s forums isn’t a real solution, in my opinion, or the other posters to that forum message.)

I’d really, really (read that REALLY!) like to see this piece of software come out for Mac OS X. I don’t know what’s involved in making that happen, but OS X has been out for what, 2 years now? Surely someone else could write a brand new piece of software for X that did the same thing and worked well… Any takers? Panic — Are you listening? Marketers and Creative people could really use this software. I can help you build a B2B marketing program to get it sold… but it needs to be created.

(If I’m an idiot and it already exists somewhere, please advise in the comments).

BTW, for the time being, I’ve found HyperSnapz DX from Hyperioncics for Windows that gets the job done (quite well actually) but it means I have to use a PC window/interface in those marketing and sales presentations. I’d really like to sneak OS X screenshots into those presentations as subliminal advertising for Apple (at no charge of course to them).

One Helluva Couple of Days – marketing meeting and Windows XP

Just a quick note to say that it’s been a hell of a couple of days. Work has been taking a lot of my time, as has reading and talking to people.

I attended an AMA High Tech Breakfast this morning in North Austin, and learn a lot. The topic was Email Marketing. I took copious notes and will share what I can sometime this weekend (hopefully) when I get a chance to write it all up.

Also, I want to share with everyone that I (the Mac guy) am very pleased with my Dell Lattitude 610 running Windows XP. I like Windows XP even more than I liked Windows 2000 (first Windows version I could say that I could use reliably). XP seems very user friendly compared to older versions of Windows, if you have the hardware to run it well… It’s a lot like upgrading to Mac OS X from Mac OS 9. To get the most out of the experience you need a new machine with the latest hardware components to get the most out of it. I can’t say that I like Windows XP more than Mac OS X, but I can say that the experience of using XP isn’t as akward as it used to feel to me.

2003 Investment Ideas

Nick presents us with his ideas on investing in 2003. I think #4 is close to the mark… I have no idea about the others really… just like #4. YMMV.

Linking and Google Ranking

Here and Link within Google

“How many people have searched for the terms “here” or “link” on Google? Probably not many. Usually these are kill words in search engines but Google did not remove them.”

Interesting look at how people link to sites, and how that skews web ranking results possibly…

Publicity 101

Publicity. PR. Public Relations. Call it what you will, but don’t discount that it can and should be a powerful part of any marketing campaign or drive.

Publicity 101 is a good primer for those looking for some tips, guidelines and examples of how to do public relations work. Fantastic Do’s and Dont’s. Fantastic.

If you’re in sales take the word ‘Editor’ and replace it with ‘Decision Maker’ and you’ve got a good primer on sales 😉

Oh, and by the way, for those thinking that PR is cheaper than advertising… go add up all the hours involved in what ‘doing it right’ looks like. Both are expensive if you do it right all the time.

[via kowalczyk]

No full RSS feed = No read for John

Just wanted to note that with sites like myapplemenu providing a full RSS feed (meaning that it’s more than just a headline) I’ve stopped reading MacMinute‘s RSS feed and MacCentral‘s RSS feed. They just aren’t useful to me. Next on the list to axe: MacOS X Hints probably. Get with the program folks.

Sales Tactic – Give them the shirt off your back

From the Business Development Network: Sales & Marketing Tribe of Ryze:

Sales Technique of the Week

I run a web/graphic design and marketing company.

I went to Office Max and bought a pack of inkjet iron-ons. When I go to meet with a big potential client, I make sure to leave their office with something containing their company logo (or I get it from their web site if they have one).

We iron their logo onto the left chest of a white shirt (we use a shirt made from t-shirt type material, but with a collar like a polo shirt). We iron our company logo onto the sleeve.

Shortly after our meeting, the client receives a package by mail with a simple note attached:

“We would give the shirt off our backs for the chance to design your web site” (or for the chance to do whatever it is we are proposing).

The client becomes instant putty in your hands!

Avi Frier

Director of Marketing

VisionBurst, Inc.

http://www.visionburst.com/

Microsoft could be penalized with an education market monopoly

MacMinute: Apple objects to proposed Microsoft settlement

Stupid, stupid, stupid… I really hope the courts penalize Microsoft with something like $1.1 Billion in cash fines and that’s it…

It’s all about Conversation

Catherine BellTo follow up on yesterday’s post about Apple ‘seemingly’ supporting weblogs, I’d like to point you to this post on MarketingFix.

It seems that Jupiter Research has endorsed, sponsored, and maybe even forced its research analysts to post their thoughts on current news items to their own weblogs.

The design and layout sucks, in my opinion, as its like having to ‘click, click, click’ to finally get any good information from even one post… though the archives seem to read better than the individual author’s weblog’s homepages (ex. David Card: Media Industry Archives vs. David Card’s weblog — see all of those ‘Read more…’ links?).

Interestingly, Michael Gartenberg seems to like Macintosh computers…

So, their UI sucks, in my opinion, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve decided to launch weblogs, which is quite big on its own… the mere fact that they’re hosting them under the jupiterresearch.com domain however seems to lend itself to ‘censorship’ or at least ‘self-censorship’ in my opinion… or at least the appearance of it. I censor myself everyday on this blog, and wouldn’t be scared to admit it, but could Jupiter Research afford to admit that they censor their weblogs in a public forum? I don’t think so. Their Analysts get paid to have an opinion, and to voice it, but when does that cloud their ability to speak candidly about their clients?

I guess that’s always the question with research companies and analysts though, eh? I guess the next question is: “Is the conversation worth listening to or participating in?”

It’s nice to see Jupiter Research starting to ‘get it’ but they need to add reader comments, and get rid of the ‘read more…’ links on the weblog homepages… otherwise, they’re wasting their time. Oh, and it’d be nice to see RSS feeds too.

DMG files mysteriously disappearing

Steven notices and comments on the mysterious way that Apple has been distributing software recently. This seems to fix a lot of the problems that he was mentioning (that I commented on) a while back. I honestly hadn’t noticed, but its true… Apple seems to have solved some of the questions that new users might have about what to do with files they’ve downloaded… now, they just need to tell all of the other developers out there what to do.

Great Big and Small Advertisement From Apple

Gotta love Apple’s sense of humor. Thanks Ask for pointing this out.