Phishing company - expediamail.com

Dec 27, 2005 at 6:44 PM
Email scam just received that looks like an email from Expedia saying you have a coupon for a free trip or some other juicy offer.

All the links look right, and it looks like expedia.com, and all the URLs show up as the right places -- very official looking.

But it's actually from http://expediamail.com instead, if you hover over the urls in the email.

DON'T FALL FOR IT. If you log into your "account" through their interface to claim your coupon it will steal your info.

Forward any email you get from them to the email address spoof at expedia dot com.

Lovely double rainbow

Dec 18, 2005 at 6:57 PM


Here is a double rainbow. I took two pictures, and it was soo beautiful I wanted to share it with you.

Funny movies

at 6:54 PM
Sinatra covers the beatles

OR

An Interview with Bobo

A visit from royalty

Dec 17, 2005 at 5:03 PM
A red tailed hawk just flew by and then landed in a tree facing me. Little things like that remind me of the beautiful things in life to be thankful for.

You never saw anything more regal than a Red Tailed Hawk. He OWNED that tree while he was sitting on it.

Then he flew away. Presumably to attend to some prior obligation (you know how royalty are always on such a tight schedule).

Extra Extra ! Major Media Outlet for sale to highest bidder! Read all about it!

at 3:16 PM
IMO:

It is so obvious who owns newspapers, magazines, TV networks and the rest of organized media that you'd have to be wearing blinders not to see it.

Just look at the ads running alongside any story, expose or article, and you'll find out who "sponsored" the latest slanted ridiculous article.

Even in the little things, liek when you read an article about women's fashion choices, they always stick a recommendation of a product in it. Same paper, same day - big ad for that product.

Opinion pieces (like political stuff) I have no problem with. It's when they give me my news with a big chunk of like-it-or-not opinion stuffed in that I don't appreciate it. Or when they assume everyone else agrees with an assumption that the entire article is based on that is actually quite a far-out concept in the minds of most people in America.

I suppose the news outlets think of all this as some kind of "synergy of purpose" between the marketing department and their reporters, or some other advertiser hype buzz-word.

I think of it as selling out.

I don't read news articles in newspapers anymore that ring true to me. Ever. I haven't read one that didn't seem tilty or factually wacky or slanted in a long time.

And I'm not that far different from my friends and neighbours. I don't know anyone who personally feels the way that these newspaper articles tell me is the gospel truth.

Speaking of gospel truth...

This week I've heard TWO stories that made me feel like religion in general (and philosophy as a whole, I imagine) is under attack. And they pile on top of so many previous stories like this. So I looked at who was sponsoring the articles - who was paying to have it run by placing their ads there next to it.

The first such article was sometimes early this week, I think. It was that Pope likes to buy armani and prada and cartier, and that this is "an image problem" because he wants Catholics to shun excessive Christmas spending. Sounds reasonable to me to want religious people to apply their faith to real life, right? And Christmas really IS too commercial. We all know it.

The article even sent aspursions to his wealth and power. Hello? He's the POPE! Of course he's rich and lives in a palace and wears fancy clothes. This is news? It doesn't matter who the Pope is, if you're gonna say that wealth and power are BAD, you can make him appear fallible. And I'm not conceding that wealth and power ARE inherently bad.

Why in heck would anyone purposefully speak negatively about the Pope for wearing shoes and watches that reflect his position of power??

Well, let's see who advertised next to this article. Who was it? Christmas retailers and drug companies and a VISA card company. Hmmm. The groups who stand to lose the most if people turn to their religion. Psychs and drugs lose out when we get religious (cause religious people are less depressed statistically). Retailers stand to lose out when we refrain from overspending on Christmas. And credit card companies lose out when we don't overspend, cause most of us do it on credit.

Where has respect for religion gone? Obviously to the highest bidder.

Today the LA Times bashes Scientology - why? Because Tom Cruise really loves his religion and believes in it, and has powerful friends in his church, and speaks out about what he believes is true. They said something like that hearing Tom Cruise is like hearing Hubbard from beyond the grave. Huh? And outspoken Christians must be like listening to Jesus Christ from beyond the resurrection? Oooh! Creepy.

Besides, I don't even see how this is bad news. Everyone is free to speak in America, even those of us who aren't bought and paid for. Freedom of religion is protected. Thank God!

Next to that tacky article? You guessed it. Ads for psych drugs. You'd have to be a naif not to know who's behind that one.

This reminds me a lot of when Mel Gibson got outspoken about being a Catholic. Media outlets that used to call him handsome and gregarious started calling him dangerous and old. Mel Gibson was suddenly strange and wrong for being a real catholic, and all kinds of wild bizarre accusations were made about him being brainwashed by his religion or trying to pound it into us.

It disgusted me how no one is ever treated badly for pushing the standard line but anyone pushing religion is bad bad bad. Bad!

Respect for religion for sale to the highest bidder! Belief in humanity for sale to the highest bidder!

It appears that the only organization that remains infallible is the organized press for being totally at the will of the advertiser pulling the strings.

And they wonder why we news consumers are turning to RSS feeds and blogs. We can choose our news and opinion articles this way. If you can choose, why would you want the media's conformist, consumer-creating, out-of-touch-with-realilty wacko view of the world, anyway?

Since the standard thought process of major media appears to be "Let's see. What articles can we write to best align with what our advertisers are selling this week?" then it stands to reason that you can draw a conclusion.

My advice to Catholics, the Pope, Tom Cruise, Scientology, Mel Gibson and anyone else the media trashes? Invest in media advertising. Just buy tons and tons of advertising. Way more than you need. Then they'll love you. Right up until your enemies buy more ad space.

I will never stop being a believer in the BLOG PRESS. The simple fact that the content of the article online decides the advertising that displays next to it (think AdSense) means that the advertiser doesn't influence the outcome of the article.

The internet is YET AGAIN proven to be the bastion of the free press, and the only place where I can be assured to receive real news. It is the only place where I can find a full spectrum of opinions to choose from rather than the kaleidescopic view of life that the old media wants me to have to sell more of the advertisers products.

Real life is so five minutes ago

Dec 16, 2005 at 11:43 PM
For whatever reason, I have decided not to promote my blog, sell anything or try to get something out of you.

I want you to believe what I say, and I always take advice with a grain of salt when it comes from someone selling something.

OK

REAL LIFE - WEB EQUIVALENT

The mall = shopping.yahoo.com


television ads for "Crazy eddie!" = flashy shaky animated banner ads



standing in line at the bank = waiting for your bank's site
to let you "skip intro"



Every nightclub flyer or homepage ever all rolled into one = MySpace



playing D&D in the basement = playing D&D at wizards.com



The waiting room of a doctor's office
when the doctor is taking a nap = forums



The dude who mutters nonsense
to himself all day at the park = Comment spammer



Trying to talk to any real person
when calling any large company's
voicemail system = Trying to figure out how to send a real email using one of those forms
at nearly any large company's
website



Snake Oil Salesmen = Sites that say
"submit to 1,000 search engines!!!"



The local TV station promising
that if you place an ad with them,
customers will "stampede in" or
"bang down your door" = Someone saying that their $35.00 software can guarantee "number one
position in all search engines"


MLM = Link Farms



flea markets = ebay


get rick quick schemes = scraper sites



pet rocks, lava lamps = useless browser add-ons that make it look cool.


telemarketers who call you as you're leaving for work to sell you life insurance = spyware ads popping up while you're tryint to get started with work.


me = me



Huh... Interesting. I translate pretty well.

Sandbox Rules - Google Playground penalties

at 10:43 PM
About the google sandbox - I have something to say:

First, let me promise you that I've got good common sense advice below about what you can do about it below. Now I'm gonna hit you with it.

There is no such thing as the Google sandbox.

And for those of you who think you're sitting in the sandbox, the likelihood is that your butt is just sitting down in the road.



So what is the sandbox? It wasn't made up by SEOs to make people buy our services. Instead, it is a common misperception of an aging delay that Google applies to your site, but ONLY in terms of valuing your relevance to search terms. It was put in place because of all those nasty spammers out there.

But the aging delay is only one of a googol (pun intended) of equally important factors, at least according to my sources.


So, what about the sandbox. Should it be considered important to try to beat it? No. Why? Well, there is no such thing, really. It is not as though all websites are waiting to go through the metal detector at the airport. And once you pass through it, you will magically be the person who gets first place. If you want to improve your relevance in Google's eyes, make sure you don't resemble in any way the spammy sites. There are a million other things you can look at, and the aging delay is one small factor. It only gets focused on because you can't fake your age as a website very easily, and certainly not once you're already up and running.

CRUCIAL POINT



If you do not come up in a direct search for your page, you are not sandboxed. You are just NOT in Google.


Again, not being listed in Google DOES NOT MEAN you are sandboxed.

Instead, you are either making it impossible for Google to crawl you or you are being penalized by Google.


Here is how to get started fixing it. Once you know which one of the below is what's happening, then you can start fixing it.

You are penalized when the googlebot has already come to your site, and:

  • You have no listings in Google, even in a direct search for your URL, and/or

  • You have no page rank at all.



You are doing it to yourself, by making it impossible for Google to crawl you when you have links to your site that google knows about, but:

  • You have excluded robots somehow or

  • You have decided to place massive plugins, cookies, and flash animations on your home page or

  • Your home page takes a long time to load.



If Googlebot doesn't easily get into your site, it skips you. Period. It is a VERY busy little creature. Cut it some slack, and make it easy for the bot to crawl you. Check every now and again if the bot has crawled you. It is way more likely to be something wrong with your sever setup or load time than that Google has it out for you and has penalized you. At least if you've been trying to just follow good practices, as a business and as a website. If you're doing something really wacky (like doorway pages, blocking all robots, using duplicate content across lots of your pages, hidden text, buying into a link farm or what have you) then you probably know you're doing it, and shouldn't blame a sand box.

That's not as complex as you thought it'd be, now is it?



It is easy to fix these problems, if you know where to start.

If you've been penalized, get a good web designer with lots of experience building reputable websites to consult with you in fixing your problems. You'll need their help to get back in good graces with Google.

If you're just a bit too disorganized for the googlebot to access your site, work on cleaning up and simplifying. Make sure your home page code is clean and includes only what needs to be there to get the job done. Make sure you're not excluding robots or that you haven't forgotten to include navigation in your HTML. If your site allows it to, the googlebot will crawl you.

p.s. if you're just complaining about LOW RANKINGS, you're in completely the wrong place. The sandbox has nothing to do with you. You're just not as well-known (linked), well organized (good site design) and relevant (good content) as your competitors yet. And you could have basic coding problems. See my prior post abvout checking your HTML for validity.

Do anything except sitting on your butt complaining about the imaginary sand.

AskJeeves is getting more relevant

Dec 14, 2005 at 11:35 PM
I personally feel that the huge jump in Ask.com's popularity has to do with growing relevance.

I find them to be way more relevant on my search terms than they were a year ago. Also a lot less in your face with results.

And I think that's why they've grown 77% recently. Still a small market share.

My cat is named now

Dec 13, 2005 at 1:10 AM
My girls decided to name our cat "Starr". It's very eight-year-old-girl, don't you think?

I think I'm gonna to officially dub her "Brenda Starr".

Everyone gets a full name in my house.

Tucker is "Tucker Fitzgerald, the Presidential Dog"

The cat is very female, and very fiesty -- and I always loved Brenda Starr comics as a kid.


The TAO of Food Shopping - Pantry Nirvana

Dec 12, 2005 at 11:03 PM
I was fed up. So, I've decided to change my ways and rethink food shopping.

I'm sick of having a half-stocked larder. At any given time, I have only half of what I'd like to have on those shelves. This is because I have limited means.

But, I've had an idea. An idea that may mean I can have a perfectly stocked kitchen by correcting what's wrong with the way that I shop.

Before my girls get home from visiting their father, I have four more weeks, three more shopping trips, two more holidays, and a weird idea to try out.

I'm going to take the next three shopping trips to buy only one meal at a time.

This breaks the shopping into the same pieces that I break the day up into. I think in terms of specific meals. Why don't I shop that way?

I will have a focused shopping trip where I know exactly what I've come for. That always saves me a great deal of money. And I will be sure to do a better job of getting everything needed if I handle only the one thing at a time.

Humor me for a moment, I'm trying to deal with my kid's being away. This is my way of dealing with it.

I got the idea last week, when I went to WalMart, but since I wasn't going straight home, I bought only housewares type stuff, and did a great job of remembering everything I was out of, since I wasn't there for food either. I also didn't get anything other than what I had come for, because I was focused from the get-go.

This morning, I purposefully bought ONLY breakfast items. I did a very good job of it. I got everything I had been wanting for breakfast items. That means everything. Most are in the freezer, the rest are shelf items.

The next one is LUNCH foods. Then DINNER and then SNACKS. Since we don't eat much sugar, dessert doesn't count and will get wrapped up into the SNACK trip.

Everything will get frozen until the girls get home. When they do, my larder will be fully stocked with every item we need all at once. I will have achieved pantry perfection – this divorced mother's domestic dream come true. This is no minor accomplishment for me.

I may have found my way... to shop.

I give it 24 hours MAX before I hear "Mom, we're out of cereal!".

IMHO: Firefox is fabtastic

at 10:53 PM
I have decided that I love firefox. I know I am joining a huge crowd. But the more I learn about proper use of HTML and CSS, etc, the better I like Firefox. The more I use it, the better I like it. Often, Ifind that what appear to be display errors are just incorrect usage of CSS that is displayed correctly in Firefox, but was made to fit into IE's weird display concepts that aren't standard CSS.

I love tabbing, and my browsing habits have completely changed. It doesn't crash on me either. The list goes on.

I'm happy.

The final nail in IE's coffin for me? The Forecastfox weather extension is literally the only weather plug-in I've found that displays the weather out here where I live - way out in boony land. With a satellite image and a three day forecast, it still manages to be unobtrusive.

(I'm not including links because I don't want to be mistaken for spam. But if you don't know where to download mozilla ff, you're the only one.)

Obligatory cat post - Need cat name

Dec 10, 2005 at 7:15 PM
Official "blogosphere buzz" apparently must be taken as absolute truth at face value at all times.

The most recent piece of this is that every personal blog is required to have a post about your cat. All right, all right. Geesh!

My cat is a chubby black thing without a stitch of any other color than black. She has no name right now. I got her off of soeone who was moving away. THey'd named her Ciarra -- the same name as my ex-step-daughter. It's a painful subject, and I don't want the cat to remind me of it.

It boils down to that I need a new name for my cat.

Here is a picture.

And another:


Cat's don't care what they are called.

My dog cares, but the cat doesn't.

Personality traits:

Requires extremely hands on petting, and only when inconvenient (like at four AM or when I'm playing piano). Doesn't meow much. Catches EVERYTHING and leaves it on the bed. Loves me and wants all of my attention whenever the TV is on and I'm trying to watch. When I pet her, she chases my hand with her head, and wants both of my hands petting her.

Very bossy, and does not like to be fed without getting wet food too. Scared to pieces by my dog, Tucker. He ignores her.

Any name ideas?

I am jonesing for a spades partner

at 5:47 PM
Living in the woods is great, but there's no one to play cards with!

I quit smoking last week, but what I'm really jones-ing for is a good game of spades. Especially one with really intelligent partners.

My Dad and I play cribbage. It's not my favorite, but it is a decent game. I've beat him four games in a row now.

I really miss my games with Jon, Dee, and Rick on the back porch in Florida summer. More than any other aspect of our room-mate-ish-ness (yes, it is a word!) I miss that.

I tried playing the online variety of spades, as an expert player but everyone else in the game was either a bad player pretending to know how to play spades, or someone who quits the second anything bad happens (like a few measly bags). And it's excrutiatingly slow. Internet spades is still nothing like the real deal.

This is where I chew my cud

at 5:38 PM
Despite that I work in internet marketing land, you'll notice that my blog is a template site blog, and it is not displaying ads, and it's not even well linked up. That's because I agree with this post from Kim Krause Berg. I write about whatever I want whenever I want, and none of it is being written with the intention to sell anything, or make me any profit. I don't link to myself, self promote or send myself kudos.

This blog is where I come to contemplate my life.

I've made the conscious choice to have a home, rather than an office, as a blog. I take my work home with me all the time, but that's ok. I'm only chewing my cud, thinking things through.

Blogging has been overtaken by the corporate world. It's like the farming community that used to be where Wall Street is now, except that in the blog universe, both CAN coexist peacefully.

Adwords ranking change affects everyone

at 2:38 PM
AdWords is the big bad wolf right now, huffing and puffing on advertisers’ houses. Is your house made of straw?

Right now, Google is the single most important web presence, with everything else either depending on or playing off of it.

Because of this, any little drop will make big ripples.

But a huge change has just been made. Google AdWords (paid placement/sponsored listings at Google) quietly changed the factors that it ranks ads by. For the very first time, it includes a factor not a part of the internal workings of an AdWords account. AdWords has started looking OUTWARD to improve their revenue.

The factors that are considered to determine the display of your ad will now include the "content and layout" of the landing page.

A page with better "content and layout" - meaning an optimized page with good marketing presentation – will now place better than a higher bidding person with a poorly optimized landing page.

What does this mean to an advertiser? It means that everything has just changed, in a very American, “free enterprise” kind of way.

Those who deserve better traffic because their pages sell better and work better – ie are optimized to sell – will now get a boost from Google.

This will improve the relevance of the AdWords results for the searcher and it will also push those with irrelevant or poorly optimized pages out of the artificial results.

Google must have noticed that searchers aren’t clicking on AdWords ads as much, and realized that it’s usually because there’s rarely a good site at the other end that was actually selling what was promised. If AdWords relevance increases and a percentage of searchers recognize it, AdWords revenue will increase exponentially.

Revenue from AdWords will increase by increasing the trust factor of the “sponsored results”. This will generate more business for the best of Google’s AdWords accounts, and for Google, regardless of whether they bid less. More clickers means more revenue over all, even at lower bids. More revenue means more internet commerce, and more internet commerce strengthens the entire web, increasing competition. Ultimately, this boosts the efficacy and longevity of the web as a whole. Free market strategy at its best.

It is a brilliant move, and one which should improve the longevity of the system, even if the short term dip occurs.

If Google is smart (which 100 PhDs should guarantee) it will gradually increase the weight applied to this factor until it is at least as important as every other factor considered. Anyone in this business should expect a massive shift in AdWords placement to occur very slowly, like a glacial melt.

There is only one set of people who will see negative results from this change — advertisers who have avoided making their site better in favor of pouring their advertising budget into an AdWords account. It’s the get-rich-quick people who will lose out most. The poor little piggies with straw houses will be left standing in the cold.

A lot of sites have used AdWords as a way to boost themselves up in rankings when their pages were not quality enough to rank in natural search results. In fact, large amounts of sites depend entirely and only on the revenue generated through their AdWords campaign, because they didn’t put in the effort to optimize their site.

Dropping even one rung will be devastating to these sites -- already paying top money, often their entire advertising budget, to rank well in the paid results at Google.

This means optimization has just become way more important to the little guy, who won’t be as able to give himself a false boost anymore.

Google should also expect to find more desperate people either paying more to rank better at Google AdWords or desperately trying to trick the search engine for better placement in the natural search results. Some of the get-rich-quick people are not going to get the point. Others will fix up their site, increasing the competition in SEO and therefore, in theory, increasing the importance of quality optimization.

OK. You’re thinking: “But, is this really a big deal?” Not if you’re the good little piggy who built your well-planned web site brick by brick.

Smoker-no-more

Dec 8, 2005 at 8:23 PM
I quit smoking on Saturday. I was gonna buy cigamints or Smoke away because I already know they work, but I just went ahead and cold turkey quit. It was agony, but I'm 5 days into it and the worst part is over within three days. I'm loving the newly regained freedom. No more trips to the store in the middle of the night. No more going to sleep smelling like smoke!

Buy yourself some chiclets or tictacs or gum or beef jerky shreds. Anything to chew on that is not heavily caloric and just do it. I know someone who cut plastic bic pens into pieces and took out the insides and chewed them to bits while he was quitting. It worked. (I'm surprised he didn't choke, though. Supposedly hundreds of people a year choke on pens.)

If you think about smoking as a problem (thoughts like "why am I doing this to myself?" or "I hate that I do this") you just need to quit and get it over with. It feels great. It's not as hard as you think it's gonna be.

Here's a picture I took so my kids could see what I did. I'm unusually proud of me right now.

Leprechauns in black hats

at 8:04 PM
Sorry so long. Amongst other things, I've been busy working on my own mother's web site. She had been using a faceless SEO with lots of employees, and I'm left cleaning up the mess. She was promised a lot of stuff that sounded good at prices that seemed fair. What they ended up doing was lots of negative tactics, like keyword stuffing into comments, putting keywords into meta-tags that are not actually anywhere on the page, extremely convoluted use of navigation to conceal duplicate content pages, etc.

In addition to that, there was no actual change to their pre-existing code, complete with CSS errors, invalid HTML, stacked tables, unfollowable links, etc.

I don't recommend using any SEO who can't:

A. Provide LOTS of phone numbers to call for recommendations from real people with real businesses (not just a list of clients -- it's easy to fake those).

B. Gives you a really lousy sounding guarantee. If it says anything about guaranteeing first place for the keyword of your choice, they are outright lying. If it says guaranteeing first place for ten keyword phrases, trust me, those will be the most obscure phrases possible. If you sell sprockets, your highest ranked keywords will all be variations on "rusty worn-out green sprockets" or "sprocket type 7a-cB1" on which you will get nearly no additional traffic.

I am mortified that there are so many leprechaun repellent salesmen out there in the SEO world. They aren't black hat (dirty techniques) or white hat (clean techniques), they are just nobodies pretending they can get the job done. They are worse than con-artists, because most of the time the customer has NO idea that they've just been conned. While the white hats and black hats are out there duking it out at high noon, this guy's snoozing on the porch.

And I was worried! (subtitled: I feel loved)

Nov 2, 2005 at 1:16 PM
I had a great 29th birthday:

I took a brisk morning walk in the cold air and fog.

I had a wonderful homemade italian lunch with my Dad and my step-mom, got presents from them with cards and a home-made happy birthday poster on the computer screen. Then went home where I took a late-afternoon nap and I had ice-cream for dinner (I know, I know). Then I curled up and watched TV.

I got called by everyone else who loves me (Aurora and Miranda, Kendra, Rick, Mom, Kevin, Libby) -- sometimes for a long wonderful call.

I talked to Kendra (my older sister) for a while, which is always a treat. We realized that we're both 29 now -- how odd that I finally did catch up with her!

I took a hot bath and then went to bed with a roaring fire and a warm house. It was great.

I was so worried that I'd be all alone on my birthday. And I was -- for part of the day. But I was not lonely.

Love and kisses to the aforementioned loved ones.

Ice-dancing partners... Yahoo and Google?

at 12:50 PM
The Jagger3 update (final Jagger update - we hope) is supposedly due today.

So is the Yahoo update.

It's just a bit strange to have Yahoo and Google dancing at the same time, during the rush of holiday shopping.

Beware christmas shoppers: you may be able to search for any one of your favorite presents and get exactly the same results for all of them -- Blog spam and spam pages containing mostly question marks.

But the dance should clear up quickly, as has happened a number of times before with updates.

----------
How I define update: the change in algorithm at the SE.
How I define dance: the change in the results due to the update.
----------

It's easy to see how an update improves things for the SE, but how is a dance useful?

Well, the only use I can see is for getting more paid search advertisers to pay more for ads, while the results are unstable. There's no other way for them to be guaranteed a spot on the results page, even if they were naturally in the #1 spot before.

Possible proof: Yahoo didn't say anything about having an update coming up until after forums and blogs started positing that Google was doing so primarily for their own monetary gain. And just after the release of their response to AdSense.

Both Yahoo and Google stand to make a great deal of money from having their search results in flux during the shopping season.

But they ought to realize that they can only do so for so long.

Do you want to know when I switched (years ago, as a pure consumer) to Altavista from Google? When Google was dancing so much that I could never find the results I had seen the last time I searched a term. Altavista appeared, to my completely untrained eye, more stable.

Most untrained searchers will see these dances as signs of instability, not flux. They don't know what the hell is going on -- they just know they can't find the brand of christmas stockings they bought last year from that place that was halfway down the first page of results.

The SEs stand to lose a great deal of search traffic if christmas shoppers get sick of looking at shifty, unstable results pages. They need to knock it off soon, and wait until the first quarter to "improve" their search index quality further. They've already gotten their self-evident goal - skyrocketing keyword prices in the PPC services.

Birthday wish?

Oct 31, 2005 at 7:50 PM
Tomorrow is my birthday.

My best friend and roommate, Amber, moved out today. She's newly engaged. Her sweetheart and she are moving to Portland and are gonna move to Jacksonville after that.

My kids are in Florida visiting their dad.

My sister was planning to come out to visit me around now, but it'll be a few more months now (probably January).

I wished for peace and quiet for years, as the pandemonium abounded. Now I have it. Aplenty. More peace and quiet than I know what to do with.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it on your birthday.

Modern limerick

Oct 29, 2005 at 10:19 PM
Here's a limerick that does not relate to my current situation. I just felt like writing one.


Consultant's Problem

There are four hundred things that annoy at me
and another seventeen things really cloy at me
But the one that stands taller
And really makes me holler
Is clients that just won't exploit me

I show 'em all of the ought to's
I tell them the do's and the don't do's
But making the changes
and getting new ranges
(Those good things I said) they just wont do's.

They want it to be totally breezy
They don't want to think- "make it easy"
so the hidden text stays,
the flash homepage delays
And the bots try to crawl but get queasy

After whatever dollars they paid
And the hours of how-to tirade
when it's all done
their web's been spun:
Sales just ain't what their site's made.

trashing blogs MAY not be the right marketing tack in today's world. What do you think?

at 8:21 PM
NOTE: This is an opinion piece. Anything I say here is my opinion. Cause this is a BLOG. Duh!

This terrible magazine says we're all "spewing lies, libel and invective". Interesting. And WHO is it that's saying this again???

Oh yeah, someone in one of the industries currently losing advertising dollars to the blog world. (Remember all those new AdSense customers? They had to come from somewhere.)

Funny, there was no mention of that in the article...

If the 1 (one!) posted case study from that article says anything, it says that someone who knows of the owner of Forbes magazine is disliked on the web and got trashed.

So?


He can just as easily get out there and post his opinion in a blog, just like blogs are doing about him.

Perhaps this holier-than-thou magazine does not like the simple fact that magazines, print articles and the clichéd "MAIN STREAM MEDIA" (echo echo echo) are no longer the way to get information. We got sick of their slanted, endlessly pedantic way of viewing the world, and their "we'll use small words cause you're mind is soooo tiny" way of talking to us.

The court of public opinion will continue to exist so long as free speech does. It's an unfortunate side effect. Freedom currently lives on the internet.

We know where to look for truth, and we recognize it when we see it. And then we write about it.

In order to stop that, Forbes would have to lobby to put caveats onto the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Which would inevitably backfire on their own actions. The magazine's logic in putting out this article is flawed.

As a final note...

OPTIMISTIC VIEW: "all press is good press".

I am already in the future

at 8:04 PM
I keep hearing that eventually people will receive all their entertainment through the net. Because of how far out in the country I am, the radio stations suck, so I only listen to iTunes radio. Every ad I see arrives by email or alongside my search results or inside of a feed ("Powered by feedjumbler!" gets screamed at me ten times a day). I don't watch TV anymore because there is no cable here, and I'm still protesting the whole sattelite TV thing (don't get me started!!!). So, I am already in the future. My entire connection with the outside world occurs right here on the blogosphere, eBay, Google, and in my head (being alone in the woods will do that to you).

I just built a blog from the ground up

at 7:59 PM
I just re-built a blog for my dad.

I have time to do this for others, but not for myself. So blogger it is.

I am busy 100% of the time. My job is wonderful and I love it, but the learning curve never ends, so I'm always either working or studying.

My friends - Soulfound

Oct 27, 2005 at 2:22 PM
Check out Soulfound's music and then vote if you like the songs.

These people are very good friends of mine for the last several years, and very good people. I want the world to notice them. Go Ivan and Chris!

Over-reaction to Jagger is rife

Oct 25, 2005 at 2:12 PM
Google's Jagger update is making some pretty heavy flux occur in rankings. Some SEOs (me included, I admit) seem to be guilty of over-reacting to the flux from the update. I think that in the longer run (by next month), the whole update will level off, and everyone who deserves good rankings will have them back. I can already see that some good has occured (page rank improvement).

Anyone who is accidentally on the bad side of Jagger by two month from now will probably have figured it out and get things righted with their tactics so that they can resume good placement.

There are so many people trying to beat the algo all the time with some fancy get-links-quick scheme, or some other kind of work-around for the true way to get a great presence on the web (real word-of-mouth, individually set up links, and a cleanly coded site are a good start). So many people think there must be some other way to get great ranking, that can be done overnight, with minimal effort, and with no one knowing you exist.

Something along the lines of Cinderella walking into the ball, so many sites want to be able to show up on the net and instantly dance with the prince. Some web marketers realize this, and sell bogus or sneaky services to those would-be princesses. False SEO (black hat stuff), schemes to trick the algo, link farm links, fraudulent click-throughs, etc. The list goes on.

For weeks before the Jagger update, I was being pitched some new linking scheme by email every five minutes, and I noticed that everything was about page rank tricks and getting bajillions of links overnight. I ignored it all, but I am sure there were millions of others who did not.

It's too coincident that the Jagger update seems to be mostly about those two things. I see some cause and effect here.

It's odd to hear those same people who were trying to sneak around the algo crying foul over the results of the update. The update is probably being done primarily because of those attempts to trick or distort results. Google does NOT ignore our actions, to the contrary, it takes them into account. The algo is nothing more than a way to try to provide good results to the searcher because of positive (and in spite of negative) actions that we all take. Where is the causation? On the site's end, not on Google's end.

So, I take back the post from yesterday where I presumed the sky was falling. I was wrong.

In the end, Google will return to normal from the Jagger update. The next time it'll need an algo shift is when too many sites start magically winning their way into Google rather than earn their way.

My point is:

Their is no Cinderella story to be had on the net. If a Cinderella does get into the ball, the fairy godmother gets a grey-bar and everyone else returns home with a rotten pumpkin they paid too much for.

Is anyone else out there having to take CRAWLING seriously?

Oct 24, 2005 at 7:28 PM
I have a slow internet problem, and I've had it for DAYS.

I keep getting DNS name server errors while browsing (on and off). It's really bothersome. I heard something a few days ago about it being because one of the DNS name servers is down, but nothing recently.

I searched for it for a while today. This seems like BIG news to me, so why is no one mentioning anything? There's the bigger mystery!

Apparently you can be caught red-handed and still be innocent

at 7:15 PM
What if you fell completely out of the rankings at Google, presumably due to supposedly "bad" linking practices. But you weren't the one setting up links to those black linking programs? What if you have a site in a highly competitive arena and you've been right on the first page for years much to the frustration of your competitors.

What if a chink appeared in Google's armor?

You'd be knocked off the first page in no time.

It's happening. When I found out that the Jagger update changed the weight of links, I wondered whether they'd thought about what would happen if someone purposefully sabotaged the sites with great linking strategies.

Here's a great explanation of the damage being done, from search engine watch...

We've all been upset that there are unethical ways to manipulate your own search results, but now it appears that you can actually manipulate OTHER people's placement just as unethically! Being upset about search spam seems petty compared.

I sure hope Google closes their trap door soon. I have a large amount of faith in the Google algorithm (built on years of always being able to find what I'm looking for there), but my income depends on it being tamper-proof, and depending only on the factors that the webmaster and SEO control, such as design, coding and natural links.

My Blog is finally sanctioned by the state

Oct 22, 2005 at 12:50 PM
As an SEO who does PPC consulting, I like to keep up to date. So I subscribed to the Inside AdWords feed direct from Google. As is obvious to anyone in this country, the current search czar is Google. Granted: they are generally a benevolent dictatorship, but they still rule supreme.

Last night, Blake posted this on Inside AdWords. Here's a snippet:

AdWords advertisers and Blogger. A perfect match? Give it a try, and see what you think.


The entire notice was entirely to prop up Google recent acquisition of Blogger (AKA, anything ending in .blogspot.com, like my blog).

It marks the very first time I have ever received an Inside AdWords post that was NOT specifically related to running a Google PPC campaign. Google recently purchased BlogSpot. Google was cross-marketing it's various services, outside of through benign methods such as links on the home page. This is huge, a watershed for Google.

Why is it a watershed? Yahoo! has been agressively cross-marketing it's various services for ages. You can't sign up for Directory listings without being hyped the paid search listings without being hyped for PPC listings at Yahoo!... and when you're done, you get newsletters every week trying to sell you every service Yahoo! has. It is through Yahoo!'s much more aggressive marketing that they are even in competition with Google.

Google has been benign in it's leadership (by depending on word of mouth and name recognition for it's popularity) because it has been SECURE in it's leadership.

They appear to be testing the waters on a public they deem extremely firm, their experienced AdWords user.

I'd bet that depending on the results (whether more blogs are started by AdWords subscribers) they will switch to a somewhat more agressive marketing stance. This is a bigger deal than it seems at first. I have seen lots of other sites copy-catting Google, but I have never before seen Google copy-catting another site.

Now, I'm not saying Google's in any danger. Now way. As long as the vast majority of web users are minimally interested in the web outside of their instant gratification needs, they will pretty much stick to the search engine that came with their portal and Google - period. There is too much name recognition there. End of story. So Google will remain top of the heap because of it's non-portal name recognition status.

But, if Google slowly starts agressively marketing themselves between services, (then possibly to the public?) the general perception of Google will change slowly, too. What happens if we start seeing Google ads at the SuperBowl?

My housemate came home.

Oct 21, 2005 at 3:12 PM
Amber came home.

She spent six weeks away - a full month of that was spent in Katrina-land helping out the refugees from the storm in a tiny village that was decimated.

Things have definitely changed for her lately. Her whole world view has changed. The entire nature of her life will now be different (and hopefully better) because she went to volunteer for Katrina relief.

She has a new fiancé (another volunteer, isn't that sweet!). So she'll will need a home of her own - she's not staying.

Four weeks late for coming back home puts her in deep doodoo with me for messing up my plans and finances but that's not the big issue for her. She has no money and no job now. So she has to jumpstart her life pretty much right away.

I wish her well, and want her to succeed in life.

MSN does not have a page rank of 2

at 2:51 PM
So the new page ranks are up (well, mostly).

There has been a lot of talk about the page rank of 2 that displays when you go to http://www.msn.com. This is a case of seeing not being believing.

Here's why it's bogus:


  • Note that it is a PAGE rank, not a SITE rank.

  • Their front PAGE is violating the rules of redirects. Try to go to http://msn.com, and you get an incorrectly set up redirect to http://www.msn.com (temporary rather than permanent according to Google Guy).

  • GoogleGuy also points out that the http://msn.com page has a page rank of 8.

  • Also that the Shopping page at MSN has a page rank of 9 - very big of them, considering that MSN is a competitor.



Now the real issue here is whether or not you have faulty redirects on your site. Google gave MSN such a HUGE cut for it, it has become obvious that temporary redirects are officially being treated as VERY BAD (to use an industry term).

Here is what GoogleGuy said exactly:

MSN has been doing some different redirects lately. This isn’t a deliberate action on Google’s part. If you check, you’ll find that their root domain http://msn.com/ has a PR8.


And if you can't trust a nameless faceless Google insider, who can you trust?

The most important thing to take away from this?

Temporary redirects can get ANYONE massively penalized, but it's totally fixable. Just correct your redirects.

How can you tell if an SEO is authentic?

Oct 10, 2005 at 6:34 PM
My father and I are search marketers. We're experts, and we actually care about what we do and how well we do it. Our little company has been around, thriving in the competitive market of search optimization since 1996. Basically, since search marketing started this company has been around, doing the same thing, and doing it ethically.

Countless hours of study, elbow grease and hard work have gone into the technical knowledge we've gathered on our SEO site. There is tons more that we just don't have the time to gather into the site because we're too busy with client work. One of our mantras is that there should be no SEO secrets. Anything we have learned the hard way, we try to take the time to explain it on our site.

This morning, I went to copyscape to check for plagiarism, and I found people who had copied entire sections of our site onto their own sites, as if it were their work.

For a second, I was flattered. Then it hit me: thousands of hours of work we've done to develop that knowledge -- simply lifted like a subway token from my pocket. We have books lining the walls that this guy has never read. Tons of head scratching and problem-solving behind us that this guy just skipped.

After showing our great content, they offer their own unworkable lies -- "submit to thousands of search engines at once!" being my personal favorite.

Show me a list of thousands of search engines in the first place. Who has the time to use a thousand search engines? I use as many as five search engines, and mostly because I'm in SEO. Most people stick with their one or two favorites. There just aren't that many... But I digress.]

These sites were using our ethically gathered SEO truths to pawn some SEO snake oil, eggregious shystering. Our content makes them LOOK like experts, and that's all they want it for. The sites lifting our content were obviously completely pretending to be SEO experts, and it finally kicked in for me the truth of what I've been hearing from others but never quite believed:

A large, unknowable number of search marketers out there are frauds, no more able to help you get better placement than the con artist is to get blue-hairs onto the promised cruise to Bermuda.

Now I finally believe it. The nay-sayers finally got me to listen.

What to do about it?

Same thing we've been doing all along; arming you the consumer.

So, when you're considering an seo "expert" or "guru" for your next SEO project, consider the possibility that they are smoke and mirrors, stolen truth and wrong solutions wrapped up in a pretty package.

  1. Call them and TALK to them in person. Get references. Call and talk to at least three other real website owners who've gotten results from that exact SEO provider. If they can't give you at least three real references, don't use them.

  2. Check their site in the name spinner at WhoIs, like so:
    http://whois.sc/seo-firm.com

    If the contact information at WhoIs doesn't match up to who you're talking to, they're bogus.
    And look at the domain start date. Did they open up shop within the last ten minutes? Go elsewhere.

  3. If you can't find a reputable firm, check the forums. Call the person at the top of the heap for a competitive keyword of your choice and ask who they used. Ask around. Get real people to tell you who they recommend.



Summary:
There is nothing wrong with a small SEO firm. I work for one, and we do a great job at SEO.

There is something wrong with a fly-by-night SEO firm. And the difference can be undetectable from a distance.

Blog Freedom is vital

Sep 24, 2005 at 2:35 PM
I don't post my political opinions very often. But, I have something to say:

Over the course of my lifetime, I have seen a slow degradation of the belief in the good of the founders of our country. One TV movie or news article after another, telling me that George Washington was a bad bad man. That Thomas Jefferson seeded illegitimate kids with a slave (since proven to be untrue, it was his little brother that did according to the DNA evidence). That our founding fathers were horrible men.

And you know what? It's all simply designed to degrade our belief in the finer hopes and aspirations of the framers of our country. It's as transparent as can be.

It doesn't matter.

The only thing about these men that matters a wink in the grand scheme of things is the fact that they carved the shape of our country out of nothing. They provided the basis that makes Americans assume that man is basically good, basically free, right and allowed to say so, and can pursue his/her happiness. My religion and my speech and my blog and my gun are all protected today by the simple fact that a piece of paper says that I have rights.

What happens when we stop thinking of that piece of paper as having merits? It is nothing more than an idea. What happens when we stop placing emphasis there in our hearts and minds?

Freedom of speech is vital to free society. Freedom of the press is part of that. The government wants to label any speech that is done to the benefit of any particular political agenda as a form of "campaign contribution". This is bull, and we all know it. If I say "vote for mickey mouse", I am allowed to say it by the rules laid out in our constitution. I am not only allowed to say it, but the government is not allowed to tell me that I should not say it or to consider that they have the right to tell me to stop saying it.

Their hearings to consider infringing our rights to free speech are outlawed by our consitution.

If you want to continue to be allowed to freely speak your mind, put up a fight. AskJeeves did so.

Read America's constitution. Read the bill of rights.

I am proud to belong to the country that holds that document in high regard.

Once our right to freely speak out in political forums, blogs and websites is gone, then the internet will be nothing but another commercial wasteland, peopled only by the currently sanctioned voice-boxes of our leaders.

Nothing is more powerful than open, unalloyed speech. Turns out it's more powerful than money and more powerful than all the PR and advertising in the world. People are paying attention, around the globe, to what WE are saying.

And that's why it's being taken away.

I found a great tech advice site

Sep 22, 2005 at 12:40 PM
I found a great tech advice site about computers.

Ask Dave Taylor Tech Support

I found lots of answers there that were well explained. Figured anyone else looking around there would probably find something they had been wondering about too.

My twins

Sep 16, 2005 at 2:50 PM


Here is a good picture of My girls that was taken this summer.



And here is a close-up. They are eight.

They are so cute. I tried the modeling thing with them when they were little. I got discouraged when I found their picture posted as supposed successful clients of the website an agency that had never ever contacted me or given us a job. They wouldn't give me the time of day, and I had to threaten to sue to get them to remove the picture.

Future of email

at 2:32 PM
Spam is killing email. The only way to kill spam is going to be to completely kill email. They are like conjoined twins (joined at the header?). One is healthy, capable, and smart. The other is a drooling diseased mess, blurting out things like "4extasie cl1ck~here" and "l0ngc0ck all4you!".

To enjoy the company of the one, I've been enduring the other for YEARS.

On my old job, I was the company inbox receipt point (despite my middle management position?!) and regularly received 2500 spams PER DAY, along with MAYBE 30 real emails to handle. On the weekend, it was not surprising to discover that 7000 spams had arrived. All in spite the spam blocker software.

I was also in charge of our proprietary opt-in email list. No one wants

Today, I downloaded my emails. 6 viruses, 212 spam particles, 17 promotional emails from companies that I have previously contacted, 4 emails generated by my website to let me know it'd been spidered, and 3 "real" emails from people I know.

So I had 7 real emails hidden in 242 emails I had to dig through, delete or otherwise handle. What is that - 2%? And that doesn't count what my spamblocker caught.

I have switched over to receiving nothing but RSS feeds from my daily newsletter subscriptions. I cancelled all of my email subscriptions.

RSS is something I have to go fetch. I only fetch what I want to get. No SPAM!

Basically, I am saying that I HOPE RSS feeds will replace email eventually as the way to communicate on the web. Not because spammers will stop, but because the email-receipt point will switch over to RSS. RSS feed softwares need to begin to provide a consistent and normal method for secure delivery of RSS-fed communication from only one point to another point. Bam! Replacement of email as communication method.

Anyone not getting themselves into the RSS feed market now is likely to have a tough time catching up later.

Spamless for the time being...

Until someone discovers a way to screw that up and get spam into the mix.

My goat ate my cigarette butts

Sep 15, 2005 at 3:38 PM
My goat, Ike (or is it Abe? - long story), ate my cigarette butts right out of the ashtray on my kitchen window-sill. Then he snuffled up all the remaining ashed that he'd spilled out onto the tabletop below. Then he tried to steal my lit smoke out of my hand.

When I asked if he needed to go to the vet today, my neighbour laughed and said no. He's a goat. He's able to eat just about anything without getting sick. I'm still worried.

Hopefully, Ike/Abe/Goat will decide to quit. I'm quitting as soon as I run out of my current supply, so I guess he's gonna have to. I hope he's not gonna be as grumpy as I will, or we might end up butting heads.

DMOZ is dying - per SEO forum

Sep 14, 2005 at 2:06 PM
According to this Search Engine Guide article, DMOZ may be dead.

DMOZ is not alone. Even the ever-applauded about.com wrecked their usefulness when they started allowing pop-ups and banner ads, etc... AKA search-suicide. I sure don't use it anymore.

I can't help but wonder where directories fit into the future of web search. Are they even useful anymore to anyone EXCEPT the SEs? And what replaces them when they go?

No client or web user I know uses directories to search anymore. No one.

No client or web specialist I know submits to directories anymore unless they're looking for natural search placement through crawled directory links. It's common knowledge that they rarely draw their own traffic. Even Yahoo! isn't worth the money anymore without the additional benefits.

Partially because of the decline in usefulness and partially because of the nature of a commerce-driven web and it's effect on the search engines, I can foresee the possibility that directory listings may not be a factor at all in search engine placement five years from now. Then the directories would really die, as they are presently standing on the shoulders of a fickle search giant.

Ms Rowling's got a point

at 12:57 PM
I love the Harry Potter series (I think it's a return to good writing for children, etc...) as do many. However, I have just discovered that JK Rowling and I have something in common. She is fighting for the rights of Czech children labelled as mentally ill.

Now I think even more highly of her.

Why I am homeschooling

at 12:44 PM
Here is yet another reason for me to be wary of placing my kids in the psychiatry-controlled environment of public school. The strange and crazy things that the psychs do to children are beyond me. These parents were following their psychiatrist's advice, and ended up doing something grossly negligent. Parental responsibility is a HUGE factor here, but WHAT KIND OF "EXPERT" recommends caging children???

Relax - I'm just kidding

Sep 12, 2005 at 5:20 PM
I accidentally donated my favorite shirt to hurricane relief. My homeschool provider is out helping hurricane victims. Two of my closest friends can't be reached, they are out helping hurricane victims. My ex-husband is sending his money to help Katrina's survivors instead of me.

This puts me in the odd position of being jealous of the survivors of a natural disaster.

Right now, someone in Mississippi gets to wear my favorite shirt, have my ex-husband's money, and get advice from my two best friends while my homeschooler helps their kid! At least I can be assured that the hurricane victims standard of living should shortly be what my daily life was a few months ago.

[TO make up for my tasteless, classless remarks above, let me please urge everyone again to donate to Katrina Recovery efforts. More tetanus vaccines are desperately needed.

Search Engine Friendly

Sep 10, 2005 at 7:30 PM
What exactly is friendly?

Since SEs are just HTML readers that are trying to think like a user, that means SE friendly is two things, and only two things:

HTML-friendly
User-friendly

You're over half-way there and will save all of us SEO people time (and yourself money) if you just:

1. validate your code against the W3C standard (totally free)
2. write your pages with the user's enjoyment and purpose in being there in mind.

Sure, SEO has a lot more involved in it than that, but you'd be surprised how often people arrive (saying they've tried everything) with absolutely botched code and text that looks like someone typed it straight out of a keyword analysis tool (or no text at all!), expecting a magic cure.

Claiming my feed

Sep 9, 2005 at 10:19 PM

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster

My little sister is cooler than me

at 9:42 PM
My little sister sent me some new pictures of her. They rock:

LIBBY

LIBBY




This is my favorite.

She is sooooo much cooler than me all of the sudden. What the hell. I was the one with seventeen pounds of makeup on and looking so fricking young and great and it wasn't very long ago. It was just.... oh, yeah! TEN YEARS AGO!

Delia is back from Louisiana

at 9:39 PM
My friend Delia is back from Louisiana. She was helping with recovery, but had to return to her job.

Here's a picture I took of Dee.

Does anyone know a single father?

at 9:32 PM
OK. My best friend Rick is the ONLY single father I know of. We're not talking about sharing with the mom separately, we're talking about handling the full burden of raising kids because the MOM is a deadbeat. We're not talking about widowers, either, because that's a whole 'nother thing. We're talking about Mom's so screwed up that she's not mom, and you're the father taking care of the kid all by yourself.

I've seen the reverse time and again. I have NEVER seen anyone else in Rick's shoes. If there are stories out there of other single Dads, I want to know.

It could be a societal thing - Maybe there is a serious problem with the way that the state runs child welfare, because when a Dad's messed up, the mom gets the kid. BUT when the Mom's messed up, does the state stick that kid into foster care normally?

I want to know your feelings on this.

Today is Katey's birthday

at 9:23 PM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATEY!!!!!

Katey is my sweetie. I have been the closest thing to her mommy since she was littler than two because her single father was my best-friend and roomie. HIs name is Rick.

My relocating across the country has made me have to spend three months without her. It's been agony. Rick's sending her out to be with me next month, and he will probably end up However, in the meantime, is a picture of her (center) with Aurora (right) and Miranda (left), my two daughters.

Demented Tumor Cow

Sep 7, 2005 at 2:16 PM
Demented Tumor Cow comes down to my house from a field that's on the other side of the hill. She seems to have strayed away from some local herd. She arrives every night at around two in the morning, has major diarrhea all over my yard (that somehow manages to smell like burning plasticene methane-coated ass), and leaves when my dog Tucker chases her.

She has a huge tumor over her left eye, completely obscuring the features on that side of her face. She's a white and brown cow, quite normal looking. Totally unafraid of me.

She shat all over my dog when he chased her this weekend. Took me an hour with a hose to get him clean.

What do you do about something like that?

I took a picture and demented tumor cow - it came out dark and blurry. Fixed up in photoshop it looks like one of those bigfoot or UFO pictures.

Here it is.

My Picture

at 2:05 PM











One of my girls painted this picture. I'm posting it as my logo. I don't know why I need one, but it just seems like a good idea.

You don't have to pay to get into Yahoo!

Sep 6, 2005 at 7:12 PM
Most of you know this already, but I just want everyone to know. There is NO NEED to pay to get into Yahoo! search. The bots that altavista and others had are still out their 'trolling, but are now doing it for their new boss under new names (and with some alterations, etc). I don't think you should have to pay for entry and THEN pay for clicks (PPC without the benefits), so just get a yahoo account and submit your site through free submit.

You say: How? Here's a link that tells you all about Yahoo!.

Or, just snoop around Yahoo for a while and figure it out yourself. Paid submission to a SEARCH engine is just WRONG WRONG WRONG. Goes against the whole concept of the word "SEARCH", in my mind...

Help Victims of Hurricane Katrina - Public Service Announcement

at 5:50 PM
As at 9-11 and the Tsunami, the Volunteer Ministers are pouring out to help victims of Katrina.

Here is what the Sherrif's department of Vermillion Parish in Louisiana had to say about the Scientology Volunteer Ministers (ON FRIDAY the 2nd of September):

" They are experts in handling human misery and assisting the rescue workers and other relief teams to get the job done. They should be allowed on any and all lines within Louisiana to further assist in reliev[ing] the devastated survivors and to help us rebuild southeast Louisiana."



During 9-11, Scientology Volunteer Ministers were amongst the few civilian organizations allowed to assist from within the barriers because of their no-nonsense, practical and real assistance.



There are thousands dying or dead. Whatever your religious beliefs, donating to this church -- this group that does such as amazing job helping others in time of need -- is urgently needed.



And, if you want to join the effort, you do not need to be a Scientologist. You can show up and they will accept your help:



Contact them at vm@volunteerministers.org for more information or call the Mission of Baton Rouge to find out how you can help.

Scientology Volunteer Ministers Disaster Relief
Scientology VolunteerMinisters

Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort

Or send donations directly to the Mission of Baton Rouge.

Two Scientology Volunteer Minister close friends of mine are there right now, Shelly and Delia. They are both working hard, along with hundreds of others, to assist the refugees.

Here is what Shelly said to me in an email:

"Please help. If this disaster was in your area, you would need to depend on the generosity of others. Right now, WE are the 'others' that are being depended on."

Please help them. Thank you.

Learning the search algorithms by scientific method

Sep 5, 2005 at 7:51 PM
Every day, I read well-educated people in the search engine optimization business talking about how to beat the algorithm with one magic trick or another perfect solution. What a ridiculous methodology. "The Search algorithm can be beaten with this doo dad..." "Try this trick to immediately beat out everyone else in the search engines", "Hire us and we'll apply our mysterious magic to get you into a guaranteed first place..." BLAH BLAH BLAH. These are alchemists and witch doctors. These are not experts, no matter what they say.

The simple definition of "algorithm" is the step-by-step procedure involved in problem solving. The search algorithms are just that. An attempt to solve the problem of "too much information out there" by culling it down to a few "perfect" results with finite rules. It is a science with set and understandable goals. Therefore, optimization -- real optimization -- could not be a simpler task.

Trying out new "tricks" to beat a methodically planned algorithm designed only for one purpose is madness. It is like trying to learn how to build a nuclear reactor by reading tarot cards.

The only way to properly build a system of management for an algorithm is to use scientific method.


Now, not everyone who is in SEO is a quack. But most are. If you're an SEO person reading this, simple statistics tell me that you are probably a quack.

However, the relative minority of us are scientific about it. Some of us must use carefully planned research tools, study our diagnostic machinery, carefully pull and test code, and run tests, both within the system and in live media.

Some of us are natural Einstiens in this science. Without ever having to scratch out the details in pen, we can often see right to the heart of it and quickly edit code in the fly, creating just the right result. That is not magic, it is science from web geniuses, and should not be mistaken for quackery. None of the SEO geniuses out there are remotely likely to win a nobel prize for it, but they are in demand none the less.

Those of us searching for the base point in our experiments can easily see already the apparent effects of the search algorithm, they are readily available to us in the form of our search results. The very "problem" of placement that we are trying to solve, is in fact the key to solving it. These are your measurable results. These are your petri dish.

There are a few differences. Because search is not a natural science, it's world varied somewhat from the natural world:

Time - in SEO, time is measured in crawls, not hours. How often does the engine crawl that page? That is 1 (one) SEO time unit.

Distance - In SEO, distance is measured in rank only.

Weight - in SEO, weight is measured in inbound links, or file size.

Velocity - In SEO, velocity is measured in how many code changes are made per unit of crawl.

We can easily define the levels of importance placed on each factor involved in SEO placement through a process of titration done within those results. Change one small factor only, and change it in the minimum even amount per crawl on your experimental page. See what the effect is on your rank. A change in rank is the known and predictable "reaction". Then you can calculate the exact effectiveness level of that form of optimization, per unit.

You can also learn to importance the algorithm of a particular SE places on certain factors by broadening your scope, study the code behind an entire test page of search results, or hundreds of such pages:

As an example, the difference of links from 1st place to 100th across 100 search terms should tell you how many more links you need to be first in your keyword. Apply that constant to your search term's variable (the inbound links from your competitor) and voila, you have a known. Of course, there are more variables and more considerations, but at least you have a starting point to work from.

Easily, deductions can be made doing this. Provable deductions.

Since the only constant in search engine ranking is the ranks themselves, I posit that the only statement so far that can be considered an absolute in the search optimization field is:

The variable is the only constant.

New Hope for New Orleans

at 7:29 PM
My friend Delia, along with many other of my friends and acquaintances, are all volunteering all along the gulf coast these days. Some are in Mississippi, some are in Louisiana. My friend Delia is like a little sister to me and was under my wing for several years -- is also right in the heart of New Orleans right now.

To Delia, my dearest:

Wear the yellow T-Shirt with pride and work double hard, as you are volunteering for the both of us. Keep safe, keep dry, and please help as many people as you can. I love you so much. You are a sister to me. Thank you for being there. - Kisses, Desi





To my friend Robin (and her children and her mother):

I am so glad to hear that you have safely gotten out of the city. While it is unspeakably sad that countless people were not so lucky, I am so happy to hear that you are safe. I was terrified to hear of your ordeal in the Dome, and saddened to know that the police in New Orleans were so remiss. And I know that once order is again achieved, the criminal slime that damaged the rescue and safety effort will be prosecuted (or voted out of office as the case may be).

Thankfully you and your loved ones have all escaped that place. If you need someplace to stay, you can stay with me (getting all the way out here to Oregon might be some work, but the offer is out there!). I wholeheartedly wish a safe and full recovery for yourself, your family and your city.

Bless you! - Desi





My hopes for safe passage, finding the right people to help, giving them the help they need, and getting to everyone who needs it go out to the Scientology Volunteer Ministers, the Red Cross, and every other organization presently up to their knees in silt and sadness.

Best,

Desi

This is Rick

Aug 20, 2005 at 9:47 PM
Here is a picture of Rick. I moved all the way across the country without him, and it'll be a while yet.









His daughter Katey is a sweetheart wild-child. I'm one of two people in the world she loves. That means something special to me. She's gonna come out and spend the winter with me.

My self portrait

at 9:33 PM

Here is a picture of me. I took it in the bathroom mirror. I have no idea why.

My Eleven Days of Hell - Chapter 2

Aug 19, 2005 at 5:16 PM
OK. So, we were finally out of Florida, and we made it to Mississippi, Alabama and then Louisiana. We picked up the usual crap along the way - little torpedo keychains with "USS Alabama" on them, an Aunt Jemima iron figurine, some corny little toys for the kids, fridge magnets that crack in a few weeks, postcards that say "typical southern family" with seventeen barefoot kids on them, etc.

We were now four days into our trip - having originally planned for a six day trip - and decided to start thinking like tourists, visiting the fun spots, enjoying ourself, etc... It was a little hard to feel like a tourist when we were jammed up into the cabin of the truck like sardines. I'm driving, the twins are sitting in the middle (thank goodness they're so skinny, or they'd never have fit into the one seat belt together), and Amber is jammed up against the passenger door. It felt like the girls were all elbows. Something was always rolling under the accelerator pedal. It was less than comfortable. Never the less, we were gonna try to make the trip something worthwhile.

We noticed that the truck's overdrive switch was not responsive - it was gonna drive in overdrive the entire trip, like it or not. But, I was not gonna wait at another U-Haul station for two days waiting for a different vehicle. I would rather have eaten rusty nails.

So, thinking the worst was behind us, and with our suntans hitting the height of excrutiating pain, we thought we'd stop in New Orleans (if you're local it's said "Niohluns" through a barely open mouth) and check out the french quarter. I figured the fact that I spoke french would grease the wheel a bit, make it easier to get around.

We drove into town as it was getting dark, and we drove around downtown for about 30 minutes looking for signs that pointed us toward the french quarter. We'd follow one, and then suddenly hit another sign saying the french quarter was the other way. So, we'd follow that sign, etc... eventually ending up right where we'd started.

By the way, Niohluns is the picture of quaint old town - if by old quaint town you mean thug-filled, hooker-laden, drifter-ridden, gun-toting criminal, rotting old corpses of houses all over the place, street-corner drug deals in full view of sideways-looking cops, quaint old town.

So, risking our lives, we stopped to ask a local (walking home from work alone - that daring soul) where the french quarter is. She pointed down a road and said to follow it and that it would take us straight there, just a few block away. Did we have to turn? No, she said, straight that way a few blocks. We said thanks. Amber took over driving at that point.

We followed the stranger's directions and ended up in the single worst neighbourhood I have ever been in (and I was born in the not-so-fancy part of LA). The roads were worse than any I've ever been on (two foot deep potholes, no where to turn around, no lights, no signals) and if we had stopped the car, we'd have been mugged. We were going slowly in the U-Haul because of the potholes, and so we'd developed an odd caravan of straggling thugs, waiting for us to stop. When they got too close, my dog barked up a storm. What they were waiting for, I did not want to know. Hopefully, my big dog Tuck's bark looked menacing. Secretly, I knew that if one of those people had actually gotten close, Tuck wouldn't have done much other than keep barking. I managed to get my own gun out from it's locked box in the glove box somewhat discreetly. I placed it carefully in my lap, safety off, hand on it.

We eventually did the tiny street U-turn (two right turns in a row), and promptly hit the only street light. While waiting for the light to turn green again, my window was quickly being approached by a very angry looking street thug with his gun out, the closest of the lot.

I though about my gun and was suddenly terrified to use it, despite all my training. I was locked in an internal agrument about having to grow that much backbone so fast. Amber didn't care what I was doing -- she just floored it through the red light. Thank God. I had never had to use the thing outside of a range, and I didn't want to hurt someone. The other guy wasn't in my shoes, he sure looked like he'd used his an awful lot.

Then we noticed there was a cop car behind us. Apparently, this one didn't care about street robbery being avoided as much as running red lights. He flashed his lights briefly, and then turned them off and went down a side road. Maybe to avoid being robbed by our mutual friend?

We never did find the french quarter - and that asshole who gave us the directions is probably still laughing. Unless walking home from work in Niohluns

Heading back to the highway, we took some pretty pictures of really creepy cemetaries while our nerves cooled. At least we'd have SOMETHING for our trip, we thought.

We took off down the highway, and discovered that Louisiana's DOT has probably never repaved the original highways. For hours, the only thing going through our minds was thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-THUUUUNG
thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-thuck-THUUUUNG
and swerving to avoid the ocassional roadkill or lane-wide pothole.

We promised ourselves we'd never go back to Niohluns again, and we'd talk to the Louisiana DOT asking why the highway was in such darn bad shape. I knew someone at the LADOT from my old job, and I was thinking it was time to give her a call ("Hey Ehllai, long time no hear. How's work going? Uh-huh, yep. Hey, by the way, your roads suck. What gives?").

Around this time, the stress and the sunburn was starting to get to me. Oh, and did I mention that I got bit by a brown recluse when I was in Florida? I probably forgot that part. I was not feeling good, to put it mildly. Eating had become an adventure in stomache-land, and I didn't have time to think about it, least of all try to keep food down. I was dropping weight like crazy - which is OK if you want to, and scary if you don't. I fall into the latter category. I had made everyone promise that if I started dying, they'd find a hospital for me. In the meantime, the only noticeable symptom was that my leg was swollen and a funny color - oh, and my hair was falling out. My long, brownish red mantle was falling out in pieces. When I looked in the rear-view mirror, I noticed that where the hair was falling out, I was also sunburned. How odd, I thought, to have a sunburn under my hair. How much sun HAD I gotten, anyway? Would it do any permanent damage?

Back on the road, we started heading for Texas. I was still shaking from the almost-carjacking, and my skin itched everywhere the sun had been. I guess I'll talk about Fort Sh-thole, Texas tomorrow.

Don't know why I'm still posting this story, but it feels great to be rending open this wound - spilling the whole horrible trip all out into the wide open void of the web . Truth is better than fiction, I guess.

My Eleven Days of Hell - Chapter 1

Aug 18, 2005 at 8:03 PM
Well, I promised to post about my trip. I moved from the Tampa Bay area to the Coos Bay Area. Never heard of Coos bay? Well, neither had I. It's just about as far west as it's possible to go in the US (that's LEFT to those of you only travle with maps), and it's very pretty.

Anyway, that was about 3500 miles of traveling. 3718 including detours and accidental wrong turns.

I rented a U-Haul trailer, which I was planning to tow behind my Ford Taurus. The guy at the U-Haul store told me it'd been inspected, and I asked if there was another one available, because that one looked awfully old. He said no, because it was a holiday weekend and everyone moves on holiday weekends.

[Note to self: Never, ever - even if the world starts falling apart around me - move on a holiday weekend again.]

I packed it full of my stuff, and took of on the road with my best-friend. She had flown out to come with me on the trip. We left on Saturday at 11:20 AM. Happy, bright eyed, singing. And with my two kids in the back seat, excited to be on their very first long trip. The dog was in the hatch-area in the back, all set up with a bed and food. He was excited too.

First, we wondered why the car was pulling right. Then about 300 miles out on by trip, in the middle of actual no where, we broke down completely. Smoke coming out of my hood, smoke pouring out the tailpipe. It looked bad...

We spent about 4 hours in the sun, near an orange grove of some kind.

The only towing company that was open on the holiday weekend within the three nearest counties came out. First they looked at my car and said it was my transmission (they were also mechanics, I guess), and then they hauled bother me and my trailer over to the nearest hotel in the nearest "big" town.

Whie they were loading and unloading my trailer, they made sure to point out to me that U-Haul had rented me a completely broken trailer -- the axle spring was broken in two and the axle had been loose, causing friction and wear, and it was too much for my tranny to take. I took a look, and I saw it - totally rusted out, and obviously had been for quite some time. This was not new damage.

Turns out "Perry" as it was called, is also pretty small, and there were no open U-Haul offices. I called U-Haul's phone system. After calling, getting put on endless hold, hanging up, calling, getting put on hold, hanging up, calling back, getting disconnected, etc (for four hours straight), I found out that U-Haul had no open offices in my part of Florida until Tuesday.

Again, this brings up: Why would they all close when so many people were in the middle of moving???

I stayed in my car, on the side of the road in that tiny little town in Florida for TWO DAYS.

Then, I was towed (at my own expense of $150.00) to another little town in Florida, where they had gotten someone with a shop to drag himself in to get me a replacement system for moving.

Let me just wander off track for a second and say that the part of Florida I was in bore no resemblance to the part I was from. No one was wearing a full set of clothing, no one brushed their hair, nearly everyone - male or female - was spitting out tobacco wads every few minutes into empty plastic pepsi bottles... or the floor. I busied myself trying not to notice and trying to get back on the road.

The town I was in was so small it couldn't decide what to call itself. The map had one name, but the locals used another. Orange-something.

I didn't care. I was just trying to track down a U-Haul dealer who was not closed and I would have gone to Ghaza to get one. You'd think, if everyone moves on holiday weekends that U-Haul would stay open... but, NO. Apparently, their busiest moving day does not warrant actually coming in to the office.

By Monday night, I was travelling in a 14 foot truck with a car trailer behind it. My dead useless car was not gonna come off the trailer until the trip was done and the dog was happy in it - windows rolled down. Me, my best friend and my two kids all cramped up into the front seat.

Did I mention that we were so sunburned that a total stranger actually asked me whether I needed to go to the hospital?

But, the trip had begun. Finally. Then I noticed that there was something wrong with the overdrive on U-Haul truck. Oh well.

Around this time, my best friend and I wrote a song about U-Haul that I dare not repeat.

Days 1-3 covered. Next time, I'll talk about Fort Sh-thole, Texas.

Today is a waste

Aug 17, 2005 at 4:05 PM
I am spending today gathering bits of search information for my many clients, checking standings, making graphs. I do it at least once a month, and it's quite boring in the details - but necessary.
I love what I do. I moved out of a better paying job in the city (with a glass ceiling I'd already hit) to come out to BFE to do what I really want (no ceiling), and I'm happy that I did. I get to be a part of the free market of the world, in my own tiny way.

No strings, no set schedule. No turning in quarterly reports. I'm not by own boss, but I'm far more productive now. What does that say for the rules and constriction that most businesses feel they must impose to ensure viability?

Note to self: I must remember to bare to the world tomorrow the eleven days of hell involved in moving to Oregon from Florida.

Advice Post taken down

at 3:07 PM
I was asked by the advicee to take the post down, and I did. She didn't want to air her laundry to the world, and I respect that. Thanks to Hampster Huey for his comments. I liked your comment, Huey, very real and I find your post interesting in that it cared more for the intent behind telling than the act itself.

My advice was to have been to let live in blissful ignorance. What time the woman has left should be as happy as possible. It's not as though there is a possibility of treatment being done to resolve the situation. Why possibly destroy the delicate balance that allows someone on death's door to go quietly and happily into their good night? It is often hard enough for those of us who are young and strong to be content in our existence. It is even possible that the woman knows her mind is slipping and simply wants to maintain dignity as long as possible.

At least that's what I think.

Motherhood

at 2:59 PM
My Two cents on motherhood:
Motherhood is a small chance to make a big change in the world.

Power

Aug 16, 2005 at 9:37 PM
My Two cents on Power:
Power is something others grant to you. As such, those others are trusting you to act responsibly. Corruption is the act of abusing that trust. Once corruption occurs, real power is void. If you want real power, you must be willing to spread the wealth; delegate power where necessary to benefit the greater good so as not to violate the trust implicit in power. Real power includes the ability to know when to ceade power to others. Power is in the hands of each of us, in some small way. You have power and I have power, and to a greater degree than we each of us think. The internet spreads power amongst all of us far more equally than does life, and it is up to each of us to be responsible with our own piece of that power or lose it.

Desi's Two Cents

at 8:27 PM
THIS IS MY FIRST POST. I love starting new adventures! Well, here I am. I've been known by my friends for years as where to go for advice and stupid technical facts no one wants to know. Now maybe the rest of you will also find some of my diatribes and advice helpful. If you want advice, feel free to ask it of me. I will be happy to give you my TWO CENTS. - Best, Desi