The Blogware Mechanic is a series of articles that covers how to get the most out of your Blogware blog through customization. In this series, we'll look at all sorts of ways to take advantage of the flexibility of the Blogware blogging platform and make your blog better-looking, easier to use, funkier, more highly-ranked by search engines and even help make you a little money! If you have a Blogware blog and want to soup it up like those fancy "A-lister" blogs, then this series is for you.
Every series has to start at the beginning, and that's what I'll do here. I'll begin with a couple of articles on basic customization. If you've been using Blogware for a while, there's a good chance that none of this will be new to you; in fact, you'll find the same information in the Blogware Publisher Guide. However, in the interest of being thorough and for the benefit of new Blogware users, I'm going to go over the basics before diving into the fancy stuff.
This article is the first of two that cover the basics of changing your blog's appearance. I'll cover two things:
- Changing Your Blog's Color Scheme
- Changing Your Blog's Column Layout
The rest of the article is after the jump.
Actually, I know a number of developers who have some sense of what a user interface should be like. But I also know some other developers, who when charged with creating a UI create monstrosities like the one below:
For more on this dialog box, see this entry in the blog Coding Horror.
If you're short on user interface designers, you might do well to follow the advice in this blog entry: Never design what you can steal.
This morning, I attended a Technology Innovators Breakfast session at the Toronto Board of Trade as a guest of Alicia Bulwyk, Project Manager of ICT Toronto. It's a suit-y affair, held at the Toronto Board of Trade's dining room, deep in the heart of suitland: First Canadian Place at the corner of Bay and King Streets, the centre of the Canadian financial universe.
This breakfast gathering is one of a new series in which interested parties can "hear Toronto's industry leaders expound on their own personal success stories - why Toronto is their company's chosen location to expand their business, and what their forecast is for the next wave of technology." Today's speakers were:
- Alizabeth Calder, Executive Vice President, National Accounts for Brainhunter, doing a short preliminary presentation
- Dan Fortin, President and CEO of IBM Canada doing the main presentation.
By my count, the event was attended by about 100 people, with a good number of IBMers in attendance, and the major banks well-represented. I sat at the ICT Toronto table, joined by a number of the ICT Toronto regulars, including my TorCamp brain trust compatriot Jay Goldman.
I found the event useful -- it's good to break out of the nerd world every now and again and see what the suits -- particularly the big players like IBM, Accenture and the major financial institutions -- are up to. After all, tech centres thrive when nerds meet rich people. I'd be more than happy to attend another one of these breakfast sessions and learn more.
I took notes of the presentations; they appear after the jump.
In the age of MoveOn.org and Michelle Malkin, getting good domain name for your political campaign is more important than ever. The Indianapolis Star covers this in an article that looks at how domain name speculators are jumping on campaign-related domain names like "hillary2008.com" (bought back in 1999, when she was only starting her bid to become a senator for the state of New York) and "obama2008.com".
"Nearly every conceivable presidential ticket has been registered," says the article, "including mccaingiuliani2008.com and clintongore2008.com. Even the name hillandbill2008.com is taken."
The article reports that the intentions of the domain buyers vary; some want to make sure that their favorite candidate gets the appropriate domain names, while others are hoping to sell them to candidates for as much as "$30,000-plus".
In case you want to get in on the action, you might want to try out our Duke of URL app to come up with variations on candidates' names...
iMedia Connection gives us brief looks at how General Motors, Sun Microsystems and Wells Fargo are reaching out to their customers using blogs in the article titled 3 Big Brands Reinvent Themselves with Blogs. In addition to showing how these companies are making use of their blogs, the article also provides some useful advice for companies who are thinking of starting their own customer-facing blogs.
We've just activated the latest addition to the OpenSRS API (the API that out partners can use to provision and manage domain names), the
Name Suggest API call. Given a word or phrase, the
Name Suggest API call will generate up to 100 available .com/.net/.org/.info/.biz domain names that are variations on that word or phrase. It's a useful tool if you're brainstorming domain names or if the domain name you want is already taken.
In order to demonstrate the
Name Suggest API call in action, we've created an example application called...
Duke of URL takes a word or phrase that you enter, lets you choose a domain name type (.com, .net, .org, .info or .biz) and provides you with a list of 100 available domain names based on the word or phrase that you provided. The Duke of URL lives at:
Remember that the Duke of URL is demonstrates just one possible app that you can build using the
Name Suggest API call and the OpenSRS API. As such, the Good Duke gives his results in one particular way. Next week, we'll show what else is possible.
We'll also reveal the code behind the Duke of URL and explain how it works next week.
In the meantime, go give the Good Duke a visit!
We at Tucows would like to wish our American friends a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
(I'm in Boston myself, helping my mother-in-law with the Turkey. See you folks on Monday!)
- How did you end up going to India?
- How much do jobs pay in India?
- How can you live with yourself for helping to move American jobs to India?
- What’s the cost of living? / How can people there live on so little?
- Can someone from the US get a job working in India at US wages?
- What’s the visa/tax situation like?
- What’s it like raising your kids in India?
- Aren’t Indian programmers better/worse than US ones?
- Don’t you hate ... in India/Bangalore?
- How long will you stay in India?
If you're look for a job in a place with a long history and a good work environment, may I suggest Tucows? We've got some openings right now, including:
Here's the job description:
Build and maintain company websites and online web applications focusing primarily on the presentation layer using current Internet and scripting languages and Web authoring tools. Develops code using industry best practices for structure, usability and design. Responsible for ensuring code is compatible across current popular browsers. Keeps informed of the latest browser and plug-in technologies. Operates under minimal supervision.
For details, see the page for the web developer position.
Customer Service Manager
Here's the job description:
Manage a team of 9-10 Customer Service personnel responsible for dealing with a variety of Internet related end-customer issues. Support staff work 8am – 8pm seven days a week. The Customer Service Manager develops standards for Tucows technical and customer support; provides technical guidance to the staff; liaises with internal technical and business management personnel to resolve customer issues and escalates to Senior Management accordingly. Able to act as an escalation point for support staff when appropriate. This includes not only resolving issues, but also acting as the end-customer’s advocate, ensuring that the customer has the right product / service to meet their needs and requirements. Accountable for providing leadership and direction in the planning, implementation and administration of quality measurement and evaluation of vendor performance for contracted services to ensure the optimization of resource use and the continual improvement of services from a client perspective. Responsible for alerting appropriate personnel of recurring problems and / or quality deficiencies.
For details, see the page for the customer service manager position.
It's always good to see Doc Searls, and I'm glad I had the chance to hang out with him at the recent ISPCON Fall 2006 conference. He's been a friend of Tucows since he first met us as ISPCON years ago, and he's been up to Toronto for a number of visits since then, the most recent one being last year's Christmas holiday party. In fact, it was a blogger get-together that he had during his visit in early 2003 that led to my getting a job here.
Doc's long time friendship with Tucows and Elliot is probably why their ISPCON opening keynote, Internet Service: The Fifth Utility? was more like a listening in on a casual conversation than attending a panel discussion. In their hour-long chat, Doc and Elliot talked about the internet not as a bonus service offered by telcos, but as a utility on par with things like roads, water, waste treatment and electricity. I attended this keynote and made a recording of their chat, which you can hear by downloading the podcast below.
We'd like to express our thanks to Jon Price, Denise Miller and the rest of the people behind ISPCON Fall 2006 for putting on a great conference, and to Doc for driving up to San Jose to take part in the keynote.
The Internet: The Fifth Utility
|File||Tucows Podcasts - Internet Service -- The Fifth Utility.mp3|
|Length||57 minutes, 54 seconds|
|File size||28.9 MB|
The Platypus Billing System is Tucow’s class-leading billing solution for providers of internet related services. Platypus 6.0 is the most hosting-friendly release to date, making it even easier to manage a hosting business than ever before.That’s nice stuff. Platypus v6.0 is definitely the biggest release we’ve ever done in terms of new features and improvements. In case you haven’t read your solicited commercial email describing the key features of v6, here are a few, from http://resellers.tucows.com/backoffice/plat6:
- Integration with leading web hosting control panels: Integration with cPanel, Plesk, H-Sphere and Ensim let Platypus communicate with these control panels seamlessly. Platypus 6.0’s domain-centric service structure allows hosting companies to tie multiple services to one domain name.
- Nested services: Platypus 6.0 lets companies tie multiple services to one product out of the box, with no custom configuration required.
- Service contracts: Enforce contract terms with early cancellation penalties. Contract penalties can be fixed or scaled.
- Logic-driven provisioning: Platypus' provisioning integration system now supports VB scripting, giving you the ability to develop logic-driven provisioning rules without complicated external coding.
- Server pooling: Use Platypus 6.0 to perform load balanced provisioning of end user control panels on web hosting servers.
Technically, I suppose the integrations with the control panels are a huge benefit to hosting companies. But to me, the nested services are the sharpest improvement of v6. In the old days, services provided by a rate group were just a loose collection of unstructured step-kids that belonged to a rate. Now with nested services, you have a sensible representation of the services you are providing. A domain service could own email services, and an email service could own an anti-spam service. Or a dialup service could own an accelerator service.
Apart from just looking neat, that lets you provision much more intelligently and simply.
I actually made one guy cry at ISPCon, when I told him about two features that would reduce the number (thousands) of rate groups he had defined. The first: the ability to handle multiple billing frequencies with a single rate group definition. Ja, gut. And the second: the ability to completely override and customize any rate group after it’s assigned to a customer. Hosting companies never do the same deal twice, so this feature is huge.
There are other pretty cool additions, such as a screen that shows you a live view of our integrations vault. A single service can now bill for more than one type of billing; in the past you’d need multiple overlapping services. We added the ability to move rates and services, even between customers. VZ redid most of the wizards to make them easier to use without losing any of their power. Oh, and we added VB scripting support to our provisioning wizard, which means you can basically make it do anything now.
A big THANKS to the dev team who did a great job on Platypus v6. I hope you like it as much as we do.
Those of you trying to determine whether to write your next web application using the Django framework or Ruby on Rails might find this article interesting: it's a comparative case study of the development of a web application using Django and Rails.
In the case study, two developers work from the same specification to implement the same application, with one using Django and the other using Rails. The application, Habitual Readers is a book club's public website. It lets viewers see the books that each book club member has read, as well as their comments for each book. Books are categorized using tags, and additional book information is retrieved from Amazon.
The conclusion that the authors of the article reached was that while each framework has its strengths, there is no clear technical benefit for an experienced Rails development team to switch to Django or vice versa and that Ruby developers should use Rails while people more comfortable with Python should use Django. Here's a table that summarizes the aspects of both frameworks that were investigated:
|Support for model and schema evolution||Integrated framework for schema evolution.||Minimal.|
|Internationalization||No support.||Some support.|
|Designer Friendly Templates?||Possible, with disciplined practices or use of third-party library.||Yes.|
|Third Party Plugin Support||Mature plugin architecture, well used by the community.||Some support via the applications mechanism.|
I found this interesting: rather than post it as a web page or a blog entry, the authors of the article are sharing a Google Docs and Spreadsheets document. We'll have to see if more people start sharing documents on the Web this way.
I've finally returned to the office, so expect the return of all sorts of blog posts, including ones from ISPCON as well as my usual postings for web developers.
The trip and conference were pretty good, and I have to say that it's pretty good having the gentlemen pictured below as travelling companions:
That's VP Marketing Ken Schafer on the left and
Iron Chef Product Marketing Adam Eisner on the right.
The good folks from the CBC dropped by Tucows World HQ this morning to chat about spam, botnets, DDOS attacks etc. The story will air this evening, so if you are within arms reach of an internet connection or TV set that can tune into "The National" tonight, yours truly and a few of our intrepid weekend staffers will be featured for a few seconds at some point during the national newscast.
In doing background for this story, I learned quite a few new things about the subject. I was amazed at how quickly the sophistication of botnets is ramping up. The internet community really needs to come to grips with the scope of this problem and start getting creative with the problem solving. I keep hearing that laws and governments don't really figure into the solutions for a whole bunch of really smart reasons (privacy, costs, etc.) but I'm wondering how governments can apply some focused pressure in specific areas so that the economic equation changes slightly so that is a higher level of profit to be found on the white hat side of the fence. If spam fighters could make a real buck fighting spam and other network abuse, smarter people could be deployed to look at the problems, smarter technology would emerge, and we might not end up in the situation that's being predicted now where close to 100% of all mail is spam (estimates indicate that 87-95% of all email traffic is spam right now...). If the white hats could make as much money doing this as the black hats, don't we put ourselves in a position where we might be able to have a fair fight?
Anyways, CBC Newsworld @ 9pm EST, CBC National @ 10pm. I'll post a link to an online version for those of you that don't have access to Canadian television if I can dig one up (the CBC does a ton of mediacasting over the internet, so I should be able to find *something*.
Dane Jasper, CEO, Sonic.net
Jonathan Snyder, president, CEO and director, KeyOn Communications
Dan Hoffman, president and CEO, M5 Networks
Rich Bader, president and CEO, EasyStreet Online Services
Moderator: Paul Stapleton, managing director, DH Capital LLC.
The session focused on legal risks of the emerging opportunities for web hosts. While, I appreciate pragmatic legal counsel, the discussion of risk at this session far outweighed the discussion of opportunity. It was a bit of a buzz kill. The information and advice wasn't bad however, especially if you're a web host considering new opportunities.
Here's the recap.
The shift in web hosting services means:
- New contract issues
- Data retention is high risk
- Conduit status may be affected
- Pay attention to intellectual property
There's more detail after the jump.
The Hotshows in Hosting session was an interactive round-table featuring perspective from:
- Christian Dawson, director, corporate development, ServInt Internet Services
- Will Charnock, vice president, technology, EV1 Servers/The Planet
- Christopher Faulkner, founder, president & CEO, C I Host
- Ted Smith, vice president, dedicated hosting, Peer 1 Networks
Moderated the by Candice Rodriguez from Web Host Industry Review, the panel focused largely on how these companies became leaders in web hosting. Lots of inside scoop on how to build a leading hosting business after the jump.
This afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (2:00 p.m. Pacific / 2200 hours UTC), Tucows will be holding its quarterly investment community conference call Q3 2006, in which management will discuss the third-quarter financial results after market close.
If you'd like to listen to this conference call, click here to access the webcast site. You'll need Windows Media Player to listen in.
We'll also record the conference call and post it here later as a podacast.
For most of this week, we'll be in Santa Clara, California, where we'll be making our presence known at ISPCON, the premier conference for internet service providers, hosting companies and VOIP providers. We'll be milling about the conferences, manning our booth on the exhibit floor and presenting at three different sessions, one on each day of the conference (which runs from Tuesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 9th).
We'll be blogging from the conference floor, so watch this space for updates!
Where the Conference Is, and How to Get In for Free
As a sponsor of the conference, we've got an unlimited number of free passes to ISPCON for you to download. These passes will admit you to:
- The exhibit hall, where among other things, you'll find our booth. We'll have a number of product managers and our sales team here, who'll be more than happy to demonstrate our internet services.
- Keynotes, including the opening one featuring our very own CEO Elliot Noss and Doc Searls, Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?
- Networking events
- Vendor-sponsored education sessions
If you want a guest pass, click here for the PDF file [816K PDF file]. Print it out and bring it to the conference, where you'll be admitted for free.
In the Exhibit Hall - The Tucows Booth
We've got a booth on the exhibit hall (booth 501), where you can see demonstrations of Tucows' services, talk with us in person, and if you're very lucky, perhaps get your paws on some valuable Tucows swag. Come on down and say hi!
Here's a map of the exhibit hall, showing the location of the Tucows booth:
Tuesday, November 7th, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?
Tucows CEO Elliot Noss will be one of the speakers at ISPCON's opening keynote, titled Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?. He'll be presenting with Cluetrain Manifesto co-author, Linux Journal editor and popular blogger Doc Searls. Here's the description of the keynote from the conference schedule:
The telco/cableco duopoly continues to see the Net as gravy on their basic services (and are more motivated to get into each other's business than do anything new with the Internet). Meanwhile, communities, competitors and customers are creating their own bypass while treating the Net as a "fifth utility" alongside water, waste treatment, roads and electric services. To make matters even more interesting, giants like Google and Microsoft are building massive computing clouds to support a shift toward on-demand services.
How is this all going to play out? Will the incumbents succeed in efforts to thwart muni networks? Does access even make sense as a utility? Are there benefits to incumbency other than creating scarcities everywhere they have a choke-hold? Who has the advantage or stands to thrive and survive in a this new utility-based infrastructure model? Where will ISPs, Hosts and WISPs fit in all this? Can you line up behind, alongside or in front of the citizens and elected officials or are you on a collision course? Once the service is deployed, what will it be like, who will use it and how?
Doc and Elliot will discuss the range of issues surrounding how this kind of accessibility to the net changes everything and why it matters to you. From changing patterns of use, new applications, shifting adoption and behavioral habits to altering the landscape of competition while favoring different services, unique models for varied applications and insight on how one should build a business around this redefined service relationship.
Wednesday, November 8th, 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. - What the Web 2.0?
Here's my session: I'll be moderating a panel What the Web 2.0? discussion about Web 2.0 from an ISP and hosting service point of view. Although it's at the end of the day, I think the audience will be awake for this one, as we've got a group of interesting panelists in addition to a scintillating moderator. Here's the description of the event:
You can talk all day long about blogs, tags, MySpace and YouTube without putting a single dollar in your pocket. We're going to spend this hour together doing the exact opposite. First we'll cover the "what and why" of the subject through an overview of the direct and indirect value these big trends represent for ISPs, Hosts and customers. Then, we'll address the "how" of providers and customers alike who are leveraging these technologies out in the wild with some best practices. Finally, the "wow" being the business impact it is having, it's potential, overall customer behavior/usage habits, effects on bandwidth, churn, ARPU, adoption and of course how this all translates into real dollars in your pocket, better customer relationships and unique value in the marketplace.
Here's the roster of people on the panel:
- Javier Hall, CCO, Userplane
- Kevin Henrikson, Director of Engineering, Zimbra
- Josh Jones, CJO and Co-Founder, DreamHost
- Ivaylo Lenkov, CTO and Founder, SiteKreator
- Dallas Bethune, Co-Founder / CTO, DreamHost
Thursday, November 9th, 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. - 30 Rapid-fire Website Wins, Guaranteed
Many ISPs and Hosts fail to realize the full potential of their own websites and spend little time updating, let alone optimizing them to achieve key business objectives. What's the desired outcome for your site? Serve as a local community portal, a customer extranet for support or webmail, a place to showcase solutions, convert new leads to customers or just tired brochureware for that snazzy $19.95 dial-up? During this fast-paced "no holds barred" session, Internet best practice expert Ken Schafer will guide you through 30 ways to make your site dramatically better and meet key business objectives. Using dozens of examples, we'll provide eye-opening insights into how these Quick Wins and Big Ideas can shape your site and provide an unfair advantage over your competitors. GUARANTEE: If at the end of the session you don't feel you have at least five techniques that will improve YOUR site, Ken will personally assess your site and give you five ways to improve it!
In addition to the job openings for Sales Engineer and Integration Engineer, we've got a job opening for the position of Business Development Manager - Americas. I've included the copy from our HR department below. If you're interested, email your resume in Word .doc format to email@example.com with the subject line BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER - AMERICAS.
Tucows currently has a challenging opportunity available in our Sales Department. As a Business Development Manager – Americas, you will identify, prospect and close new business opportunities within assigned territory or industry vertical(s). You will create action plans and drive solutions forward to implementation. The successful incumbent will identify and prospect new sales opportunities; sell Tucows services and solutions to new prospects and existing customers; manage and maintain existing account base; as well as manage the administration, including the maintenance, of effective, accurate and complete CRM records.
We’re looking for a self-motivated, driven professional, with a minimum of 5 years proven experience, preferably in a channel or B2B services environment; this includes experience selling to broad audiences, from technical staff to C level executives. You have knowledge of IT-related business operations and solutions sales processes, including experience selling software solutions in an ASP environment; along with the ability to effectively prospect new sales and close new sales opportunities through. Your skills are well rounded by strong analytical, technical and organizational abilities and superior communications including excellent presentation and business writing; as well as the ability to work in a collaborative team environment. An undergraduate degree is desirable, along with previous sales training; in addition. Travel as required (approx 30%). Experience using Salesforce.com or similar CRM applications.
If you're interested in this position, please send a resume in Microsoft Word .doc format to firstname.lastname@example.org with BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER - AMERICAS as the subject line.
Here's another job opening -- this one's for the position of Sales Engineer. I've included the copy from our HR department below. If you're interested, email your resume in Word .doc format to email@example.com with the subject line SALES ENGINEER.
We are currently seeking a Sales Engineer to function as our technical lead in developing new accounts and maintaining existing customers of Tucows services; including web hosting companies, internet service providers, web design firms, domain name resellers, telecommunications service providers and large enterprise customers.
As our Sales Engineer you will work directly with the Sales Team providing technical credibility and support for implementation initiatives including training and consultation; as well as participate in the implementation and support of new products and services.
In addition, you will resolve technical pre-sales issues; communicate technical capabilities, features and benefits of Tucows e-commerce solution; provide consultation and product expertise, resolve technical issues and support resellers through major design initiatives; assist the Training Department in the development, coordination, and delivery of technical training; maintain a high level of technical competency and knowledge across the entire range of our products and services; all while working with our Sales, Product Management, Project Management, Professional Services, Operations and Customer Support business units.
To be considered for this exciting opportunity, applicants must possess:
- A minimum of five years pre-sales, technical support and related e-business experience
- Bachelor's Degree in computer science or related discipline, or equivalent experience
- Fluency in one or more languages in addition to English is preferred
- Demonstrated ability to articulate technical information to both technical and non-technical customer audiences
- Proven experience and capability in the technical sale of complex high technology products and services, including email services
- A sound understanding of operational metrics pertaining to performance, reliability, availability, scalability, and manageability of key business systems from the reseller and end-user perspectives
- Knowledge of Perl scripting and Unix system administration
- Experience creating technical and functional documentation
- The ability to quickly understand, learn and work with new technologies
- Strong self-motivation
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Excellent project management and personal time management skills
- Strong teamwork and interpersonal skills
We've got a job opening for an Integration Engineer here at Tucows. Here's a quick summary of the job position:
The successful candidate will have the challenging opportunity to work on Tucows’ vast and complex high availability system spread across multiple data centers, servers and operating systems. You’ll work with a dynamic team of Integration Engineers to develop, deploy and maintain components of a large scale hosted messaging platform. In addition, you will develop software components for our hosted messaging platform; liaise with third party suppliers in customizing applications for deployment on our high availability production environment; as well as contribute to ongoing process improvement of the SDLC.
If this sounds like the kind of work you can do, there are more details after the jump.
If you've been checking out Global Nerdy, a tech blog I share with my buddy George, I've gotten my hands on a copy of Release Candidate 1 of Microsoft's next version of Windows, Windows Vista. So far, I've made two attempts to install it, both without success.
Here's the short version: yes, I finally got it installed. As with software from Microsoft, the third time's the charm. My trick was the tried-and-true fix that all IT workers know: turn the damned machine off and on again. This trick is so useful that it's been immortalized on t-shirts and in at least one television show, The IT Crowd:
For more, go check out the full story.
There were just 18,000 Web sites when Netcraft, based in Bath, England, began keeping track in August of 1995. It took until May of 2004 to reach the 50 million milestone; then only 30 more months to hit 100 million, late in the month of October 2006.
This calls for a graph! Here's one from Netcraft, which shows both hostnames and "active" sites, from August 1995 to the present day:
That's a lot of pictures of kittens and porn.
Netcraft lists these previous milestones:
- April 1997: 1 million sites
- February 2000: 10 million sites
- September 2000: 20 million sites
- July 2001: 30 million sites
- April 2003: 40 million sites
- May 2004: 50 million sites
- March 2005: 60 million sites
- August 2005: 70 million sites
- April 2006: 80 million sites
- August 2006: 90 million sites
This all means that there’s more and more noise online and it’s only getting “worse.” I’ve been talking about that in the limited context of local. But the general cacophony of new and me-too sites and services only means that brands and habitual behavior become more powerful; people will fall back on what they like, know and trust rather than try new things.
The idea that “our competition is only a click away” only really means something if you’re a no-name site. It’s very different if you’re Google or Yahoo (or even MySpace now).
People talk about “the Internet” in the same way they discuss “the small business market.” There is no “small business market,” there are only 10 or 14 or 17 or 20 million small businesses, with some shared characteristics. Similarly, “the Internet” is not a monolith, but 100 million websites.
Thus those would would “aggregate the tail” (whether eyeballs, publishers/site or marketers) are thus increasingly important to the online ecosystem.
"Island hopping" is the name of the current trend in spamming. Now that anti-spam filters and blacklists are wise to the spam domains in the typical .com, .biz and .info namespaces, they're switching to domains of small island nations such as Sao Tome and Principe (.st) and Tokelau (.tk) to bypass them.
The malware reasearches at McAfee first caught onto this trick after noticing an unusual number of .st domain name registrations. This raised a red flag for them, and further research showed a migration of spammers to domains for small island nations, particularly:
|.cc||Cocos (Keeling) Islands||14||628|
|.im||Isle of Man||572||75,550|
|.st||Sao Tome and Principe||1,001||193,413|
Spam from these domains has been increasing -- here's what an article in EFYTimes has to say:
"This new trend is another example of spammers' relentless quest to spread their abuse of Internet domains far and wide," said Guy Roberts, senior development manager, McAfee anti-spam R&D team. "Some of these islands have dozens of spammed domains per square mile."
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, reports that the 750,000th registration of a .ca domain name was recorded this week, marking a 50% rise in the number of such registrations in under two years. A snippet from their news release:
"The phenomenal growth of dot-ca registrations is the result of increased awareness of the value of dot-ca and the trust Canadians place in it," says Bernard Turcotte, President and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Registration Authority. "Dot-ca still offers the best opportunity to get the domain name you want when compared with the larger dot-com registry."
"Dot-ca is reserved for Canadians and defines an organization or individual who meets Canadian presence requirements," explains Mr. Turcotte.
According to the press release, when CIRA took over the .ca registry, there were 60,000 names registered there. By 2003, there were 250,000 .ca names registered and in March 2005, that number had doubled to 500,000.
Over at Global Nerdy, I've posted my second attempt at installing Windows Vista onto my Wintel desktop machine at work.
The short version: still no luck.
I do most of my work on a 1.33 gig PowerBook G4, but I'm not going to say no to a company-issued computer with decent specs. Hence the other computer on my desk, a 3.0 gig P4 IBM ThinkCentre with half a gig of RAM, one of the standard issue machines here at Tucows. I use it mostly as a machine for testing sites and web applications in Windows, and occasionally, I'll do a tiny bit of Windows development on it. There aren't any important files on the machine, which made it a suitable subject for today's scary Hallowe'en experiment: installing Windows Vista RC1 (that's Release Candidate 1).
I got a copy of Windows Vista RC1 last night at a gathering held by Microsoft here in Toronto, where they invited a number of Toronto tech bloggers to see Vista in action and hear presentations on deployment and security. I took notes and will post them here later.
Earlier today, I attempted to install Windows Vista on my work machine and my notes from that experience appear in Global Nerdy, a tech blog I write with my friend George Scriban. The experience wasn't as smooth as I'd hoped.
A sizable contingent from Tucows will be making an appearance at ISPCON Fall 2006, the premier conference for internet service providers, wireless providers, VOIP providers and internet businesses. It'll take place from Tuesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 9th, 2006 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. If you're in the neighbourhood, we'd like to see you, which is why we're handing out these free guest passes!
These guest passes get you free admittance to:
- The exhibit hall, where among other things, you'll find our booth. We'll have a number of product managers here, who'll be more than happy to demonstrate our internet services.
- Keynotes, including the opening one featuring our very own CEO Elliot Noss and Doc Searls, In the Hotseat with Doc: A Fireside Chat
- Networking events
- Vendor-sponsored education sessions
The guest passes also entitle you to register for the conference at a great discount.
There's no limit to the number of guest passes we can hand out. If you'd like one (or several) -- simply click here or the image below to download a PDF of the pass [816K PDF file], print it out and bring it to ISPCON. See you there!
What a week. It's Saturday morning now I'm on my way to the VIP wine tasting - wine dinner excursion. There wasn't room for me to fly to this on the Greenpoint technologies Lear jet, but, I'm flying back tonight on it, so pictures will be take (blogging from a plane!). This is going to be one of the last posts here for me on the Tucows Blog. So if you'd like to keep reading my posts on other (but still related) topics, please come on over to A View from the Isle.
So, how was the conference, you might wonder. I don't go to that many conferences, three or so a year usually, but I have a great affection for BBS as you know. BBS seems to be the conference where I take giant leaps forward in my career. BBS is an interesting conference. There are people coming to learn how to get their business blog going, some to learn how to make their business blog better, others are already bloggers and here to just connect with each other.
While there are always good sessions and some not as good sessions, overall I think the sessions this go round where the best thus far. Being the third BBS, Steve et al have figured out what the range of people are looking for, and this really showed. Besides the two sessions where I was speaking (which were of course spectacular ;-) ), I really like Jason Calacanis' keynote, John Batelle's keynote and the small business blogging sessions. Yes, I liked all the others too, don't feel left out, those where just my favourites. The keynotes where interesting just because John and Jason were interesting to listen to and had interesting insights. Might not 100% agree with 100% of the talk, but it was still entertaining. The small biz blogging session was so tremendously important ... I wish it had been in the larger room and not the smaller side room. SMBs (small to mid-size businesses) can leverage blogs and blogging far easier than large companies and, IMHO, reap larger rewards faster. SMBs are more nibble and can level the playing field versus larger competitors. It is not hard or unheard of (actually it's rather common) for a small biz to lap a large biz on search engines by leveraging blogs.
As the sessions were wrapping up I had a chance to chat with Steve Broback about what BBS07 might look like. One idea thus far is to make it more of a community of business bloggers, therefore people already blogging. Sure there will always people who will still need to get their business blog going, but I have two ideas for that. One is, of course, the pre-conference workshops. I'd make them much more hands on and maybe more like small group classes. Second, might be for newbie bloggers to have a "blogging buddy" a speaker or attendee who is already an established blogger to just keep tabs on them through the conference and offer insight to the new folks.
I think this has been a watershed BBS. It's the third one, business blogging isn't a new concept or something that I think needs a strong arm sell. I think we need to work on refinements and enhancements, but the overall stuff is all set, IMHO.
I'm going to be covering the special post-conference event I was invited to attend on my blog.
Last weekend, I presented as part of a panel discussion on Net Neutrality at the alt.telecom.policy.forum
Here are my slides via Slideshare...
My message was simple: Net Neutrality isn't a new issue, nor is it over. The fight for the basic rights that the Internet's end-to-end architecture give us are being slowly but surely taken away from us by Big Media and the Bellheads. We need to be aware of this and take specific steps to ensure that we don't lose anything else, or better, turn the tide.
Apologies for some of the formatting. Keynote doesn't have a great Powerpoint export, and Slideshare only supports PPT uploads.
Looking into the future is fun. The concept, the vision of what could be ... Liz Lawley, Steve, and Matt are doing a job more akin to herding cats or wrangling talking about this. This isn't bad, in fact it's great. The discussion is out there, it's interesting ... Matt started with referencing Plato's Republic and the "noble lie" about technology and making it easier is better. Matt thinks makes it personal is key.
The information is the key. Is the goal transparent tools? Is the goal a giant place where we actually don't know what we're using, it just works? Would one company control it all?
If they could buy a company:
- Matt: Sun and Amazon
- Liz: Six Apart and Amazon
Search as an Interface ... wow at the command line. We're still at the DOS prompt level here. Waiting for Search 2.0. This is a whole new why to consider this. Search results now are just like type dir or ls -a and getting a list of what's there. Wow.
Browser battles, it's not who own's the window, it's who owns what's inside the window. In the window is where the business is going on and the outer part doesn't really matter.
Lightweight business model with innovation as the assembly of new and interesting things into things we can really use.
Search rules. The cost of acquisition of paid search is $8.50. A new business model that monetizes the declaration of intent not content. Looking for a car ... search for the model you're looking for and ... well we all know what comes next, the ads. It is because of this focus on search that fueled the explosion of social media. Search is tied to the links and linkages within the media. A symbiosis between what people are looking for and those who can supply the information or the product.
John's keynote gave me a lot of ideas for things I'm going to have to blog about later ... and this post is a tad late because right after John spoke, I actually could share the stage with John and Dave on the SEO panel. Which, has to be the highlight of my time here. Thanks guys for letting me be a part of the panel.
I haven't done a video blog post yet, but for podcasting I'm trying PodcastSpot (disclosure I've known the guys there for a while and as a beta tester I got an upgraded account for free). And guess what! I have been recording, just not mixing and uploading! Well inspired by this talk, I did my mixing, edit (not much, I like the recordings to be pretty raw), and uploading during this session.
Jason and I talking about blogging, stats and other random things at the cocktail party last night (that Parnassus and Bloggers For Hire sponsored).
And ... now it's lunch time. Dave Taylor and I will be at the SEO table ... cause guess what? Dave and I are doing the SEO panel discussion ... I'm actually subbing for John Battelle! How cool is that?
The straight dope from a couple of people who might have heard of in the blogosphere Maryam and Robert Scoble (I only wish Maryam blogged more). The tips and ideas here are real, tried-and-true techniques that will make your blog and blogging.
- Don't bog if you don't want to -- If you aren't passionate (or interested in) what you're writing about ... don't
- Read other blogs
- Pick a niche you can own ... which is getting tougher and tougher to do. For many people, the search box is the address bar. People use one-three word search terms. So ... people are always looking for something, if you content isn't focused, then people will probably miss you. It's like a person searching on a particular day might be looking for info on RSS on the day you're writing about your dog. Okay maybe not that bad, if you've written a lot on the topic they will probably still find you.
- Linking to other blogs is the lifeblood of blogging. If you don't link, it just won't work. Like getting a link from Scoble yesterday (heck getting a link from Scoble anytime) is great. Beyond the traffic a link is an affirmation of your content.
Oooh the A-lister question (I don't think I'm an A-lister. I'd like to be an A-lister, but I don't think I'm there, and might not ever be). Robert says that you can become an A-lister in 20 mins. Dave and I disagreed a bit ... if you get the exclusive, blogable Steve Jobs interview sure you're going to have massive traffic, but you might wind up being a one-hit-wonder. There is a valid point, however, you can be an A-lister in the various niches (btw the word is pronounced neesh not nitch!).
- Thick skin
- Write good headlines ... yeah pithy is cute, but you do need to write descriptive headlines that people will find your post in search engines.
- Use other media ... pictures in posts rock! They catch people's eye. Video? Podcast? Yeah, but humans are pretty visual, so pictures are easiest. Halley recommends Tony Pierce's BusBlog for the pictures of hot women ... usually that don't match the content, but draw you in to read all of the content.
- Have a voice ... write like you talk might be talking with them. I do this ... I am writing this thinking I'm trying to tell you (quickly) about this talk. My better posts when I'm not trying to type at top speed, of course.
- Get outside of the blogosphere. Meaning, have a life and friends who blog in real life. Yes, Lorraine and I are friends with Maryam and Robert and Chris and Ponzi. Really. And the friends I've made blogging are some of my best friends even though I might only see them face to face with them once or twice a year. Go to conferences. Hang out with us. Chat. Sit with us at lunch. Really we won't bite
- Market yourself. Well, yeah. We all love to do this, please read us, please link to us, please subscribe to our feeds. Robert makes the key point ... put your blog on your business card!
- Write well. Grammar, spelling, tone, and your state of mind. Blogging mad or down, etc is a bad idea. Trust me on this. Experiment with different creative writing styles. Make sure your first paragraph makes your point, or is catchy. Even if you have to re-write it when you're "done" with the post.
- Expose yourself. In terms of being vulnerable, be open, let people get into your head. Sometimes, no often, taking a risk once and a while will make your blog much more interesting. Maybe a post once and a while about your life or hobbies
- Help other people blog. Mentor, help, teach just be the kind of person who makes helping part of your blogging
- Engage with commenters. Visit your commenters' blogs, subscribe to them, and leave a comment on their posts. You know that's how you meet great people and learn about a whole new perspective.
- Keep your integrity. If you get it for free, disclose. If you have a vested interest in something tell us. Hey we're human we can handle it. Be true, authentic, be you.
Yeah ... these are the good tips. Do these and yes, you will be on the road to success.
How has YouTube changed marketing, especially for large businesses? The large business, the enterprise (not NCC1701-D), have such different perspectives than other business works.
Tools for enterprise to leverage power of Web 2.0:
- podcasting, IBM is getting into podcasting and video blogging (internally, esp) in a big way
- Wikis, project management, etc (sorry I still don't like wikis).
- Not about the technology
- Not new channels ... huh?
Now that a brand can be created, or destroyed, in moments though online media, it is important to understand it. This is, unfortunately, a rather heavy session for 9AM. Two days of live blogging the conference is taking its toll on my gray matter.
How can I sage and wise about this? Clearly brands matter. Clearly IBM is a huge brand (understatement).
How is IBM changing, more podcasting, more video, but Ben is saying that there are great stories at IBM, but they need great storytellers and people to help. Both things they are having trouble find.
"Large companies want to spend money on this, but don't know where to spend it" -- Ben Edwards
Yesterday most speakers talked about RSS. This morning Scott Niesen from Attensa is showing how the rubber meets the road. I've been using Attensa since Gnomedex. That was the 1.5 beta that then was launched as 2.0 and being given away for free. Right now Attensa is my reader of choice.
Regardless, Scott is discussing all the benefits of using RSS, keeping up on news, searches (Attensa's built-in search feed wizard is pretty slick, btw), collaboration, delivery.
Since this a free product, I have no qualms recommending it. Yes, I'm friends with guys at Attensa, mostly because I bugged them during the 1.5 beta with product suggestions ... a couple of which made it into 2.0.
In yesterday's small biz blogging session I mentioned the book by Strunk and White (E.B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web) Elements of Style. This really is a must-have book on writing. It's short, organized so you can look up a nuance of grammar, and it is revised often enough to stay current.
This is an Amazon affliate link so you can find and buy it.
Jim and I were both in the making money from your blog talk at Blog Business Summit. While my take was more journalistic, Jim is wondering if the emperor has no clothes, or telling us all "let them eat cake". Jim does have some really valid points. Making good money from Adsense isn't really that easy. Were the speakers leading listeners down a primrose path?
You can Digg the article too ...
Jory, Kevin, Andru, and Stan all small business bloggers. This is a huge thing. Blogs and small business go together like peanut butter and jelly. Of course when you go from just talking about your life, to talking about your work as your life this is a big thing. When money starts coming into play ... then you have to start worrying about the shill question. Can you be bought. Can someone buy a good (or bad) word from you. Andru is addressing this at the moment, and this has been a theme all day. Interesting times. This wasn't talked about last year. This wasn't even talked about three months ago ... at least not the the extent that it is right now.
Content. If you start a personal blog that becomes a work blog, what about the old content, what about the content you might like to write about? I would think about before making your personal blog work ... just start a new work blog. But remember that the two will become intertwined and linked whether you like it or not.
Kevin: Experts sharing content. This is so key. For consultants, lawyers, etc. blogs are, hands down, the way to get noticed and noted in your field as an expert. Kevin was being cited as an expert in law blogs (or blawgs) six weeks into blogging. Yes you read that right. Why? He happened to start blogging in a niche without much (any) competition.
"No how small you may be today ... if you have faith in your idea ... if you have a service you can offer ... you establish a price and can present clearly what you do (note to self ... clarify self ... just what do I do anyway?) ... you can do it." Post, link and write. Steve Rubel's advice ... FLEE
- Find the Internet discussion on your topic
- Listen to the discussion
- Engage in the discussion, link, comment
- Empower people to market for you. Link to your content ... leverage your content ... this is your currency
Stan: "Blog and podcast ... hmm they don't seem like deep sea fisherman to me ..." I think Stan was showing Chris and Ponzi a house, but I'm not sure ... he had asked what they do and was told they were bloggers ... the quote above is classic and so true. What does it mean when our terms seem so alien to most people? Stan, who was Robert and Maryam Scoble's real estate agent. Stan was relating when Robert and Maryam put their house up for sale. OMG, can you imagine?
Revenue models ... advertising? No Okay a little advertising will help pay your hosting fees. But then the question is "would you sell your soul for beer money ... " depends on the beer! But seriously it isn't a small decision you do have to think about the perception of having Adsense on your blog. There isn't a right or wrong per se, but ... ask a blogger. We'll tell you.
Here comes the blog ... a small business that sells wedding favours but also has a community of brides talking about their weddings.
Kevin has made an awesome point ... small companies (law firms are his example) cannot be nimble enough to out blog you to out write you.
Do you have to blog about your business? No, make sure you blog about your industry to show that you are an authority and guru in your industry.
This has been one of the best and informative sessions, well except for mine of course ;-).
Chris and Andru ... Is Adsense the answer? Came in a bit late to the session here (I realized that you dear readers might be more interested in earning money than corporate blogging policies) and it sounds like Adsense did some juggling and people are earning less via Adsnese. Dave Taylor is earning decent money, like $300 a day, on one of his blogs.
Generally we're talking CPM (cost per mill ... thousand) in the dollar-ish range.
In a crowded space, say gadgets, you have to be creative and adding value in your posts. The doing the standard "me too" post or just re-blogging what everyone else has written.
Calacanis is saying (as an audience member) that the cost of entry of blogging and getting to the top is much higher than it was a short time ago. Podcasting and video blogging is an open field.
Success in the blogsphere is related to the amount of work you put it. You hustle, you can succeed and win.
Weblogs Inc moved to a rev share model early on to per post pay. It started low, but now it's about $10 a people. He did go on to say that some bloggers earn more.
What is the cost of blogging like this? How much to you have to blog (read work) to really earn a living. Yeah, think about it (Andru gave this example) ... you earn $20 a month with Adsense. How many hours did you put in?
Verticals that work: HD TVs, mortgages, travel.
Experiment with different easy to implement ad services. I use Text Link Ads and am trying Performancing ads. Of course, I 'm not earning a huge amount, but that's okay at the moment.
The advertising sessions are very interesting. But for me the interesting thing is listening to the folks like Dave Taylor and Jason Calacanis talking about their past and present ad models.
Chris: "Email is still dead" ... RSS and search engine driven traffic to his sites.
RSS advertising. Chris has been doing it since day one is giving it a thumbs up. Okay I have to hear how this is working ... ah he's not talking about Adsense for feeds or Pheedo ... he's talking about selling his own space in the feed. Ah now I get it. That makes sense cause I've tried Adsense for feeds and it was pretty much useless.
Full feeds .. are they dead? Chris does full feeds. Will the aggregator companies start monetizing our content and not share? Or would there be a blogger revolt?
Now are feed readers beyond most folks? Ah a question for another day.
Where do you find bloggers writing about your topic? Well if you're reading this blog you probably know this.
Technorati blog directory search ... focus on authority, subscribe to RSS feeds.
I have to say that while the talk was really good, my brain is a tad full and tired.
That now said, the theme that I'd like to continue is the RSS is still too geeky. I think I've also written probably way too much on this topic, so I think I'll let it lie.
Now, Mary Hodder talked about and re-enforced many of the things I talked about in Andru and my talk about audience. Essentially when looking at this blogosphere you need to look at the whole group of factors of links, and comments, and number of posts to assess the authority of a blogger. This is especially important when a blogger starts to slam you.
RSS, love it or hate it, it certainly makes my data and information gathering life easier.
Let me take a moment to thank contributing blogger Tris Hussey for doing an excellent job on blogging the Blog Business Summit conference. Tris, you're doing an amazing job -- I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!
This is a quick note to let you readers know that I've got more posts about the Ajax Experience conference, and that said notes will cover more than just the swag at the conference (cool as it was).
I'd like to thank the organizers for putting on one of the best conferences I've ever attended. I could go on about how good it was, but I thought this photo of a projection visible from the lobby of the conference hotel, the Westin Boston Waterfront, would capture my feelings about the Ajax Experience:
Yes, I finished my talk. Yes it went really well. Thanks to Andru for being a great co-speaker. So, yes someone blogged my talk (and I found it via Technorati ... which ties into the current talk on RSS) ... you can judge for yourself how we did then. Slides? Here's the MindMap version and a PPT export. Enjoy!
Thorny path? Yeah. Minefield? Not so much. But there are some things to know ... and I'm capturing the tips as they come (and I know I've missed a few ... so readers, pls fill in the gaps). Janet, Buzz, and Halley are on stage.
- Send irrelevant material to me to write about.
- Send materials without links to what you want me to write abot
- Send a huge, detailed e-mail for me to read about you want me to write about
- Send my an 8 meg PDF about your product (at least without warning)
Read the blog for about a month to get to know them ... do your homework.
- Tools, RSS aggregator
- Be honest why you're asking for my help
- Remember this, bloggers are people, we do have lives (sometimes even outside of blogging ... which is an odd concept, I'm not sure that it is ;-) ).
- Read the comments on blogs in your topic area too ... you can find smart people who are talking about your topic too
- Build real relationships with bloggers. You have no idea how valuable this can be for you
- Follow your company on the blogosphere so you can find the good and bad stuff ... fast (hint use RSS)
- Be customer sensitive
Jim Turner turned to me just now "This is the best session so far ..." Hmm maybe he write a post ... oh yeah the power cord on his laptop is wonky and he can't fully charge it.
The Blogosphere is free market intelligence and focus group (Dave talked about this too) ... you need to leverage this (see point 6 above under Do's).
In the spirit of Jason Calacanis' keynote, I want to let all you readers know that Tucows sponsored me to come to Blog Business Summit and blog. Why? First, I wouldn't be able to come, even as a speaker, if I didn't get this support. Second, I think Tucows wanted great conference coverage on their blog.
Yes, Blogware has been the sponsor of my blog for about two years. Yes, I will and do tell Ross and Joey what problems there are with Blogware, I do give them the heads up if I'm going to blog it (it's courtesy, not editing).
So, Tucows isn't guiding any of this content. No, I really don't like Typepad (this is no secret), yes I do recommend Blogware as a hosted blog system.
There it is. Ahhh, I feel better now.
Jason Calacanis, love him or hate him, is a poster boy for making money from blogs. Weblogs Inc, now owned by AOL-TimeWarner of course, is one of those storied parts of the blogosphere. I think (I hope) there is going to be a complete recording of this session because the stuff Jason is talking about is cool. Very interesting. Ah he's telling stories because he didn't prepare a presentation ... the truth comes out. Lots of intersections ... Nick Denton and Gawker, MySpace, Mark Cuban, selling to Time.
OMG! The YouTube moment of the day ... Calacanis doing Nick Denton. God I hope it makes it up.
Jason relating about telling AOL, you can't edit bloggers. Social misfits who couldn't make it anywhere else ...
Be an A-list blogger:
- Go to Techememe
- Blog something intelligent about the top story of the day
- Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent
- Repeat for 30 days
- Go to a couple conferences a month
- You're an A-list blogger.
The blogosphere is the ultimate meritocracy ... "It's not broken, you suck" (when someone complains that they don't get traffic).
You write, you write well, you post often (that really is the key), leave good comments on blogs ... you will succeed. Yes, this is very true and actually good advice.
Forces of Evil (gee hope I'm not one of them ... don't think I am, am I) ...
I'm not because it's Pay-Per-Post. You take money or stuff and don't disclose it, that's lying. And I totally agree. I do get free software licenses to try. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I like the software, but decide not to use it. You know what? I'll tell you when I do (examples: MindManager ... use love ... would buy, ActiveWords ... used, liked, stopped using it, Propaganda, use, love, would buy, GyroQ, use, really love, would buy).
The whole basis of the arguement, again which I agree with, is that requiring only a good review, requiring non-disclosure, that's wrong. Yes, Dave I know there are shades to all of this, I'm talking about the specifics of above, not all the stuff about are you nicer to the companies your friends and family work for.
YouTube: Maybe they should give some of the money back to the content providers. And I totally agree with that.
Final quote: "Don't let anybody (speaking of advertising) get into the blog post, it's sacred." A perfect ending to an awesome keynote.
Breaking News: Jason Calacanis to podcast for Podtech and give money to send needy kids to good schools
Fast breaking news ...
Jason Calacanis will do CalacanisCast with Podtech sponsored by GoDaddy. They will also get $100,000 a year to put needy kids in the best private school in New York. I might get the details wrong, but this kind of philanthropy ... is awesome.
Now to be fair, Jim Turner turned to me and said "Blog this now" and that's how I got it up first
Is blogging so yesterday? Is something coming down the road that is going to blow it all away?
Jeremy Pepper, Jeanette Gibson (Cisco), John Starweather (Microsoft) having a panel on what we should be watching on the horizon. I'm having the feeling that this audience isn't quite ready for looking at what's next, when they are still grappling with what's now.
And the questions being asked, bear this out.
The best question I've heard is what metrics can be used to determine ROB ...
Let's have a quick wrap up of my posts from yesterday (Workshop day):
- Opening sponsored blog
- Dave Taylor's Keynote
- Blog Advantage
- Setting up your first blog
- Writing your blog (ghostwriting and editors)
- Podcasting and video
- Law, blogs, and bloggers
The pre-conference workshop days are interesting for the new bloggers (and that's the audience). There is so, so much for people to absorb in just one day. The whole soup to nuts of getting a blog going. Today? Today is where the rubber hits the road (and I hit the stage).
Putting stickers on your laptop is (was?) a hip thing to do. About 90%+ of the back of my laptop is covered (some are either going to get covered or removed this conference, I fear). While I think it's very cool, the average person doesn't get it, I fear. Sitting here in the lounge area I get a lot of long stares. Since I figure they aren't looking at me ... it must be my Web 2.0 cluttered laptop.
Ah well the price of esoteric coolness, I guess.
Tags: laptop stickers
Tucows is holding a "Best Dressed Squishy Cow" competition as part of our Hallowe'en fun and games. The contest is only open to staffers, but I thought you'd like to take a look at Ian Hall's submission on behalf of the retail services team..
Yes - that's a *real* 5 milliwatt laser and a *real* plasma backdrop (voice activated even). Ian actually did all the work, but the retail team is definitely jumping in to share the credit :) It looks like there's going to be some stiff competition this year. We're also holding a pumpkin carving contest as well. I'll definitely post some more video and photo's of the various entries as the competition progresses as I'm sure others will as well.
In this article, I continue with my look at the dot-com-bubble-esque swag and prizes being given away by the organizers and vendors at the Ajax Experience conference. If you haven't seen part 1 in this series, it's here.
Helmi, who bill themselves as "the only open source Ajax-based RIA development platform" were giving away the fanciest pens at the conference. The Helmi pens house a green LED, which gives off an eerie glow through their transparent barrels.
Also present in the exhibit hall were Google, whose booth was essentially a recruiting booth. Instead of literature about their APIs or developer-centric events like the Summer of Code, they had half a dozen different pamphlets about job opportunities for Java back-end coders, UI and rich internet application developers and researchers.
Swag-wise, these were their offerings:
- Google gum: Haven't tried it yet.
- Google pen: This one was pretty popular.
- Google key fob: Optimizes searches for your house keys.
- Google post-it notes: Handy for reminders, comes with subtle recruiting ad.
- Google notepad: With lenticular cover that shows a different image depending on your viewing angle.
I asked if they were giving away the heated toilet seats for which their offices are now famous. They would've come handy in the Boston Westin Waterfront's aggressively air-conditioned conference rooms.
Apparently, if you asked really nicely, the folks at the Google booth had some of their coveted long- and short-sleeved t-shirts to give away as well.
Video is more linkable, but audio is more portable. "What kind of story to have to tell ... or show." --Scoble. This determines the format. Funny think, I love doing podcasts (even though my podcasting rig is kinda hosed at the moment) I don't listen to them! Strange, huh?
No matter what you talk about ... you have to make it interesting.
There is a paucity of standard tags and ways of letting people know what the podcast and videos are actually about.
How do we podcast? Ah that's where the fun begins. I really like the microphone and my laptop model. I had the the iRiver and external microphone thing going, but it seems to be failing me. Regardless, it is really easy. Andru did a little sample using his Mac, Garageband, and Hipcast. On the PC I suggest Audacity (free) or Propaganda (pay, but worth it ... even though I won a free license). The question of Skype recording came up, oddly enough none of the speakers do this, but Scott and I do. He uses Pamela, I use HotRecorder.
How often? Something predictable. Be consistent (oops, that is my problem. I tend to forget for a couple weeks).
Video, where do you put it? Services, your service YouTube ... you post, they own. This is an important question for all these topics, doesn't matter if it's a blog post, podcast , or video.
Wow. I think the non-geeks in the audience brains' have exploded all over the room. Oh well.
Buzz Bruggeman, Kevin O'Keefe, and Phil Mann are talking about the law and blogging. What are your copyright rights (you have them automatically, btw ... you write it, it's yours), when you get the letter from a lawyer (talking to a lawyer might be a good idea). We had a copyright problem on Business Blog Consulting ... how did we handling it? A little FeedBurner tweaking and e-mailing the blog owner, but to no avail. Is it worth sending a legal letter to Turkey? Probably not.
Buzz, Phil, and Kevin are sharp dudes on this. The only problem is that this really important session is coming at the end of the day. I think there is a lot brain-deadness going on here. I think including myself. What's next today? We have a speaker and VIP dinner tonight. When we get back to the hotel, it's going to be the day wrap up post.
First thought ... maybe doing small breakout sessions for hands on stuff inter mixed with these theory sessions.
Maybe I'll suggest that to Steve.
Today might very well be called the Dave Taylor does blogging show. That's okay though, I like Dave, I don't always agree with him, but I like him. I thought that this session would be hard to write a post about. I mean how many was can I tell you about how to write for your blog. But a little discussion got going about ghostwriting and editing of blogs. Dave thinks it's all okay. Others in the audience are pretty against the whole thing. I was against the whole thing, but I see Dave's point. If you have a business blog and you don't write well, how does that look? What if you just had someone proof a post to make sure it sounds good? Yeah I think that might be okay. This is a post that I hope to get a lot of comments on.
I need to cogitate on this some, because I have a new perspective that I need to work through.
So, why a blog? Three good reasons:
- Simpler to create than a "traditional" website (and it is since I've created tons of them)
- It is so much easier to change a blog around than a website.
- Search engines love blogs because all the posts are pages, all the pages are linked, and this creates a resource of content and links to other websites (psst, if you haven't figured it out, you need to link to people when you blog)
Sure, Steve's talk was a "preaching to the choir" for me, but he did a great job of it.
Tags: blog advantage
Umm, tough one to blog here. Dave and Steve are showing how to set up a blog with Typepad. Personally, and this isn't just because this is a Blogware-powered blog or that Blogware sponsors my blog, I don't like Typepad. Never have. I don't like the page rebuild thing making template changes. I don't like the process you need to go through to make changes. So sue me. Blogware, even with its pros and cons, I think is better.
So ... some of the considerations they are talking about that are generally important are:
- choosing the name of your blog
- choosing the URL of the blog
For both of these, think keywords. Think search engines. For the URL I highly recommend using your domain (like blog.larixconsulting.com or blog.qumana.com) for your blog. Blogware makes this supremely easy, and much easier that Typepad. I've done it on both, and Blogware wins hands down.
Navigation on the right is better ... so two column right is better than two column left. Wow this is actually cool. I've always gone for three columns (nav, content, nav) ... now maybe I'll go for content, nav, nav. Awesome tip Dave!
Back during the days of the dot-com bubble, the quality and quantity of swag available at conferences was nothing short of amazing; I'd often have to buy a cheap duffel bag in order to haul the promotional booty, which I then gave as gifts to my co-workers. Here at the Ajax Experience, I'm feeling deja vu -- while the "exhibit hall" outside the sessions is occupied by only a handful of vendors, the swag and prizes available from both them and the conference organizers is impressive.
One big surprise is AOL's table. Ever since The September That Never Ended, AOL has had a pretty bad rep among the developer set. In the meantime, other "portal" players -- Google, MSN and Yahoo! as well as portal-like entities such as Amazon and eBay -- have been boosting both traffic and developer love by becoming programmable by providing APIs, through which specialized sites and mash-ups can be built. What, you might ask, is AOL doing here?
It turns out that they're here to woo the developer community and promote their developer site, dev.aol.com and their APIs and encouraging developers to use AOL services for their mash-ups. They've been surprising a lot of developers (myself included) by opening their pitch with "Did you know that MapQuest is an AOL property?"
They realize that they're late to the party, so they've gone to some trouble to make sure that their swag is good. They've created a series of "mash-up" t-shirts, like the "Geek" one I'm showing in the photo below:
There are 6 shirts in the set. They're called "mash-up" shirts because you and your friends can wear different ones and rearrange yourselves -- that's the "mash-up" -- to form cute nerdy catchphrases. They've been very popular; people have been lining up for them here. Here's the set:
Some of these shirts may seem weird out of context: "Garden" will make people think you're into horticulture, and wearing the "unwalled" may convince people that you're either homeless or have poor impulse control.
Also on their table: USB cable extension cords, developer-friendly stickers (I found the Unix-hacker-friendly
chmod 777 aol sticker amusing), quick reference sheets and a postcard announcing a contest for the best mash-up using AOL APIs. They've also included an AOL-branded sprial-bound notebook in the knapsack given to every attendee (I'll cover the knapsack's contents in a later entry).
AOL's going to have a long, tough climb towards respectability, but they seem to be working hard at it.
Dave focused his keynote on his concept of "findability". Findability is, in a nutshell, is making sure people find you and not your competitor when searching.
Because this is the Blog Business Summit Dave highlights how well blogs do as authoritative sources on topics. Now, authority is an interesting concept here. Dave, Jim Turner and I were talking about authority when Dave finished and I came up with the term of computational authority. Computational authority is when Google ranks your content about any topic highly because according to Google your site has "authority".
Dave could be stepping into dangerous ground when he said ... a blog is just a tool. I'd call him out on this, but I agree with him. A blog is just a publishing tool. The act of blogging is the act of writing.
While he said that there are things that you should do (like comments, replying to comments, etc) but you don't have to to be considered a blog. Okay we can let the flaming begin.
Dave did touch on the whole pay-per-post debate. That's going to be a fun debate for later.
The sponsored blog. While you might think these are a controversial no-no, in reality they are a great way to get your business blog going with less pain and effort. Steve and Teresa went through two case studies, InFlightHQ (which was started right after BBS05 I (January) and the new blog Big Business Jet (which I am contributing to as well).
A sponsored blog is a great choice for a company that might not have the technical resources to blog or have an existing in-house blogger or if are in an industry where blogging directly might not be a good idea (pharma maybe).
Steve and Teresa had a pretty short session, it is 8 AM after all, and went through the benefits like increased Google Pagerank, search engine listings, and maybe best of all, getting your company associated with expert opinion on your industry.
Personally I'm a big fan of the sponsored blog. It can be mocked up for a client relatively quickly, set up quickly from the prototype. Hiring a few bloggers and techies to do this will cost you some up front money, but it will pay off.
Maybe I'm getting old, but trying to catch all the interesting stuff at the Ajax Experience conference feels like running a marathon. The conference is packed with sessions and other activities; days 1 and 2 each have 12 or more hours in their schedule. Here's my first report, covering the opening keynote.
After a nice breakfast -- kudos to the organizers for going above and beyond the standard "continental" and throwing in some eggs, sausages, bacon and home fries -- the conference began in earnest with a quick "welcome" keynote by the Ajaxians, Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer.
I imagine that for the organizers of a conference, doing a keynote has got to be physically trying. They usually have had very little sleep the night before, what with the last-minute preparations and things that always arise before the start of a conference. As a result, opening speeches by conference organizers are fairly lackluster -- but this one wasn't! Instead, we got a lively, funny, well-rehearsed start to the conference.
In addition to the typical bits of information about the conference, Ben and Dion gave an Ajax "state of the union address", in which they shared their thoughts about the current state of Ajax.
"Everything old is new again," they said. It's true -- the technical prerequisites for Ajax have been around since Microsoft introduced XHR (that's the popular shorthand for XMLHttpRequest, the browser technology that makes Ajax possible) into Internet Explorer in 1997. Being a browser-specific feature, it wasn't used by many developers. Even when XHR was finally implemented in Mozilla-based browsers in 2002, it wasn't one of the features that was touted inthe press release. We'll have to assign bonus cool points to Brent Ashley, who figured out that there might be some very interesting uses for XHR before the wave of applications like GMail, Google Maps and Oddpost led Jesse James Garrett to coin the buzzword after which this conference is named.
Many user interface specialists have eschewed web development in favour of building so-called "fat clients" because of the severe constraints imposed by working within the browser. These constraints had a silver lining; Ben and Dion pointed to a quote by Marissa Mayer (Google's VP of Search Products and User Experience) in BusinessWeek:
Creativity is often misunderstood. People often think of it in terms of artistic work -- unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. If you look deeper, however, you'll find that some of the most inspiring art forms -- haikus, sonatas, religious paintings -- are fraught with constraints. They're beautiful because creativity triumphed over the rules. Constraints shape and focus problems, and provide clear challenges to overcome as well as inspiration. Creativity, in fact, thrives best when constrained.
As for whether our current constraints will be loosened, Ben and Dion don't think that will happen any time soon. Although IE7 fixes some problems, it runs only on Windows XP and later versions of Windows; Ben and Dion said that "IE6 will always be with us". There are some interesting developments with SVG and Canvas, but these have only been implemented in Firefox and Safari. As for things like Flash or Microsoft's "Flash-killer", WPF/E, time will tell.
Stressing that the Ajax Experience is about the User Experience, Ben and Dion talked about the introduction of a design track to the conference and also encouraged people to attend the accessibility presentations.
It was a well-done opening keynote, and it set the stage for a very busy, very informative day 1 at the Ajax Experience. Well done, guys.
My friend Amy Gahran is doing an actual conference blog and has some great tips for how to use a blog for a conference. When I started to write this post I was reminded of Josh Hallet's post on how to actually to conference blog. Since there will only be one of me, I think I'll just have to do my best at covering as much as I can.
Here are Amy's 10 tips for using a conference blog:
10 WAYS TO USE A CONFERENCE BLOG:
You can follow the SEJ conference on the unofficial conference blog.
- Covering conference sessions and events,
- Personal impressions and observations.
- Handouts and online resources.
- Extending discussion.
- Personal tales.
- Video and audio.
- Tracking coverage.
- Setting the stage for in-person discussion.
- Followup. ?
Tags: conference blogging
I didn't know quite how to sum this up in the title, but with a little more space in the post I can do better. Blog Business Summit starts on Wednesday, the fun actually starts on Tuesday when a bunch of us speakers and folks are going out to dinner together (always a blog-able moment or two there). As I'm covering the conference next week, I'd like to know what kind of posts you'd like to see. When I conference blog I typically write three kinds of posts. First is the live post. I write and post and update as the talk goes on. Might be interesting if you want to hang out on this blog and refresh every couple of minutes. The second is writing during the whole talk, but not posting until the talk is done. The third is the end of the day wrap up post. Something that recaps the whole day and maybe finds a common thread or two in the whole day. Whether you like it or not you're getting the third kind. That's just part of good conference blogging. For each session ... I'm leaning towards the second type, unless there is some amazing breaking news that I just want to scoop before anyone else.
How's that sound to you?
From Sunday afternoon until Wednesday night, I'll be reporting from The Ajax Experience in Boston, the premier gathering of developers interested in building Ajax-ified web applications.
Take a look at the conference schedule. Content-wise, it's pretty meaty (six tracks!) and seems to offer something for Ajax developers of all levels. It's also pretty intense, with Monday's and Tuesday's sessions running until 6:45 and evening panel discussions running until 9 p.m.. I don't think I've seen a schedule this hardcore since the Ruby on Rails conference back in June.
Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting my general impressions and detailed notes and photos from the sessions I attend. I'll also be incorporating my notes into an internal training session at Tucows.
I have to tip my hat to Brent Ashley, local developer and longtime friend of Tucows. He's a presenter at the conference and as such, was entitled to two freebie passes, one of which he gave to me. He'll be doing a talk on alternate transport mechanisms, which I will attend.
After the jump, I've got a table of the sessions I'm considering attending. If you've got any suggestions or recommendations, let me know what you think in the comments.
The next session of DemoCamp -- the Toronto area's show-and-tell for the software development community -- takes place this Monday, October 23rd at the MaRS Centre (101 College Street, right by Queen's Park subway station) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., followed by a social at a nearby pub. There's no admission to attend, and you're encouraged to ask questions!
The rules of DemoCamp are simple: NO POWERPOINT (or any other slideware)! We want to see working applications or prototypes in action, not marketing spiels! We're pretty open about what's demo-able at DemoCamp: desktop software, web applications, embedded software, hardware hacks, hobbyist projects, corporate applications, whatever. As long as you can demonstrate it and be interesting, it's fair game!
This is the 10th DemoCamp, and it'll feature the following presentations:
- Online Grading and Code Review, presented by Jennifer Campbell, Sana Tapal and Andrey Petrov
- BrokenTomb.com, the world's first commercial Smalltalk host
- PBJ-Web 0.1
- The effervescent Sacha Chua presents: Livin' la Vida Emacs!
If you've got something you'd like to demo, there's one slot available! You can sign up to take this slot over at the wiki page for DemoCamp 10.
Bruce Schneier has an essay in Forbes titled Casual Conversation, R.I.P., in which he talks about how ephemeral conversation is disappearing:
Fewer conversations are ephemeral, and we’re losing control over the data. We trust our ISPs, employers and cellphone companies with our privacy, but again and again they’ve proven they can’t be trusted. Identity thieves routinely gain access to these repositories of our information. Paris Hilton and other celebrities have been the victims of hackers breaking into their cellphone providers’ networks. Google reads our Gmail and inserts context-dependent ads.
If you're feeling particularly bold, you can venture over to the Internet Explorer page and download the final release version of Internet Explorer 7, which became available to the general public yesterday afternoon.
Although the Windows machine I have at work is a pretty nice one (developers are assigned machines with the same specs), it's largely relegated to Windows compatibility testing and a teensy bit of .NET development. Since I don't store any crucial files on that machine, I thought it would be the perfect guinea pig on which to test IE7. Over the next few days, I'll report my experiences, complete with screenshots.
Here's a screenshot of IE7 showing the Tucows Blog main page:
I don't think I have my own category yet, but I'm Tris Hussey and I will be covering the Blog Business Summit next week for the Tucows blog. So while Joey and crew will be at other conferences of cool-geekiness, I'll be in lovely Seattle covering all the sessions I can (there are some dual track sessions) and recording some podcasts as well with speakers and attendees. I myself am I speaker and will be talking about audience measurement and RSS metrics. I'm certainly going to make it interesting, in my usual style ... Joey has heard me speak so he can vouch for me.
Blog Business Summit was the first of its kind—a conference geared towards the business blogger. Those already doing it to those who want to get started. The speakers at next week's conference (the third BBS) are the cream of the crop. Some of the best minds on the blogosphere like Dave Taylor, Robert Scoble, Tara Hunt, Jason Calcanis and others. There is still time to register if you want to go ... and if you're interested in business blogging, you really should think about it. For the first time I'll be at the pre-conference workshops on blogging (covering those for your too) ... and those should be just awesome. Oh and I'll probably sneak in some pictures and posts from dinners and such. Why? Because that's where the really good discussions happen.
Your next question will be then, just who is this guy. I've been a blogger for over two years now (seems like forever) and my primary blog (sponsored by Blogware, btw) is A View from the Isle where I cover news about tech, the blogosphere, and other stuff that I feel like writing about. Now, being a blogger I couldn't just stop there. I write for several other blogs including:
- The Qumana blog (Qumana is my primary employer)
- Qumana Investor Blog
- Business Blog Consulting
- Blog Business Summit
- The Homely Scientist (one of my B5media blogs)
- PimpYourWork (a B5 blog I write with three other folks ... it's not officially launched, so it doesn't have a spiffy B5 template, but the content is still great)
- Daddy Wears Slippers to Work. The blog for the book I'm writing about telework.
I think that about does it. Yes, all those blogs do keep me rather busy.
The Blog Juice Calculator is an amusing diversion for the curious or those who like to obsess over their blog ranking and pageview counts. Given the URL of a weblog, this web application calculates its "juice" (that's street slang for "credibility", "respect" or "influence" for our non-North American readers) on a scale of 0 to 10. The juice score is based on these factors:
|Bloglines||Approximate number of people on Bloglines subscribed to the given blog. Accounts for 40% of the juice score.|
|Alexa||The Alexa rank for the given blog. Accounts for 15% of the juice score.|
|Technorati||The Technorati rank for the given blog. Accounts for 30% of the juice score.|
|Inbound links||The number of links pointing to the given blog, as reported by Technorati. Accounts for 15% of the juice score.|
As points of comparison, here are the juice ratings for a few well-known blogs:
- Gizmodo: 9.8
- Boing Boing: 9.6
- Daily Kos: 9.2
- Scripting News: 8.8
- GigaOM: 8.5
- Scobleizer: 8.4
- SEOmoz: 7.4
- Gawker: 6.8
- tmz.com: 5.6
In case you were wondering, this blog has a juice rating of 2.2, which isn't bad for the first month. The Global Nerdy blog, which I share with my buddy George, has a rating of 0.2, which means that I'm not going to retire on my AdSense revenues just yet. This blog's predecessor, The Farm, has a 5.1 rating, and my personal blog, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century, has a 6.8 rating, thanks to its longevity (it's been around since November 2001) and some BoingBoing link love.
- Use descriptive headlines.
- Write in "inverted-pyramid" style (get to the point at the beginning, elaborate in later paragraphs)
- The first link is the one people click on, so make it the main link of your article.
- Reintroduce core ideas in longer posts.
- Use lists, images, tables and anything else that will make your artiles easier to scan.
- Use simple language if you're writing for a global audience.
- Credit your sources.
- Mark updates and changes.
- Spellcheck your posts and re-read them for clarity.
- Note that all these rules have exceptions; know when they apply!
The next month is going to be a busy one for many of us here at Tucows. In additional to the usual work stuff, some of us will be making appearances at the following conferences:
CASCON 2006 (Toronto)
I got a last-minute invitation to IBM's CASCON 2006 conference, which runs from October 16th through 19th, where I'll participate in the Social Computing: Best Practices panel. I'm thinking of catching the "Introduction to AJAX Technologies" workshop on Monday and the "Rails/DB2" workshop on Tuesday afternoon. Note that admission to this conference is free, including the food!
The Ajax Experience (Boston)
Here's a good one -- Brent Ashley, who will lead the Ajax Transport Layer Alternatives session, gave me a complimentary pass to The Ajax Experience, which runs from October 23rd through 25th. This looks to be a very meaty conference for techies and I plan to take copious notes and share them with the developers here at Tucows as well as you, the readers.
ISPCON Fall 2006 (Santa Clara)
ISPCON Fall 2006 is the premier conference for internet service providers, wireless providers, VOIP providers and internet businesses. Tucows people will be all over this one -- on the exhibit floor, doing the opening keynote and leading a couple of sessions! For the full details, check out this entry; to get a free pass to the exhibit floor and the keynote, see this entry.
Rather than use words, let me let the graph below do the talking:
This graph comes from SitePoint's report, The State Of Web Development 2006/2007 -- 53 pages of "results, analysis and commentary on the state of Web Development in 2006/2007" based on a survey of 5,000 web developers. If you can't pony up the $795 single-user fee for the report, there's a free preview of the report as well as an article on the graph shown above.
We're in the last hours of the "landrush period" for .mobi domain names, a period when .mobi domains are available to the general public for a higher-than-normal price; in exchange for paying mor eper domain, you get a better chance of getting the domains you want. Starting tomorrow, October 11th at 10:00 a.m. Eastern (7:00 a.m. Pacific / 1400 hours UTC), the .mobi Registry will drop the price of .mobi names to their standard price.
For more on /mobi, see MidwestBusiness.com's article, Thursday Begins General Ongoing Registration For .mobi Domains and ComputerWorld's article, Why you need to buy a .mobi domain name soon.