Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo’

 

I Wish I Was At CES

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Between the reading tweets and news coverage I’ve become disappointed I’m not at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Las Vegas is nearby. CES has all the toys.

Technology is constantly changing. The big deal at this show is how much processing power can be put in how small a space, like Intel’s Edison Development Board.

It’s the same size as an SD card, commonly used in point and shoot cameras. It has a two core processor, with WiFi and Bluetooth already integrated.

Intel says, wear Edison. Here’s their suggestion for a baby monitor.

Start with a computer that really is the size of an SD card.
Attach it to a regular onesie and sensors that monitor the baby’s temperature, breathing, and motion.
Then, set the Intel Edison board to trigger actions on other connected devices, like this automatic bottle warmer or this coffee cup.
Each one of these has the Intel Edison board inside, communicating with the others to deliver amazing solutions to age-old problems.

Helicopter parents, your prayers have been answered.

This baby surveillance system is just a demo. It’s a taste of what the device can do so other developers create more products using it.

There’s lot of talk of 4k video at CES. It’s a new, higher standard for video. 4k video is sharper and more lifelike than HDTV.

I’ve seen 4k. Spectacular. The improvement is immediately noticeable.

Unfortunately, in 2014 having 4k capability is like having a car that can do 160 mph. So? Where can you use it?

Cable, satellite and Internet delivered video are all compressed mercilessly before we see it at home. Modern TVs are capable of much better images than what we see. I’d rather get less compressed HDTV (and hold onto my current hardware) than compressed 4k.

Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! spoke today. Her arrival has been widely applauded among the Technorati. Whether Yahoo! becomes a bigger player, as they once were, is another story. Their stock’s doing well.

1,700 were at the Hilton to see her. Katie Couric talked about her involvement with Yahoo News. David Pogue’s Yahoo! tech site was shown off.

It’s still more smoke than substance. They seem to be moving in the right direction. It’s a company full of smart people who should be able to figure things out.

This is the nerd prom. I need to attend. Maybe next year?

Let The (Fantasy) Games Begin

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I’m in a fantasy football league with some guys from work. The season began tonight. I’m in way over my head. Who cares? Fantasy football is a math nerd’s delight!

Our league is hosted on Yahoo!. I’ve played there before. Each year the software gets a little slicker; a little more insightful.

My tight end, Jimmy Grand¹, got me 8.80 points. I have no idea who he is. Until I chose him I’d never heard of him.

Way to go tonight, Jimmy.

I look at fantasy football the way I look at weather forecasting or poker. It’s a mathematical puzzle where you’re given a subset of the info you need for a learned decision. Even if you go with the odds sometimes you’ll get burned. An 80% chance doesn’t come true 20% of the time!

My one wild card is Kevin Kolb. He used to play for the Eagles so I’ve seen him excel as a backup. There’s no guarantee he’ll perform like that now that he has a lucrative multiyear contract. If he sucks, I’m screwed.

Football is overloaded with stats. Which are meaningful? Which are superfluous? I’ll let you know early next year.

It’s not really important to know who Jimmy Grand is.

¹ – Just to show what a doof I am, I’ll leave the typo in! It’s Jimmy Graham.

Google Reveals What “How To” Info We Want

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

In 1999′s Bowfinger Steve Martin knew how importance was defined.

“See that FedEx truck? Every day it delivers important papers to people all over the world. And one day, it is going to stop here, and a man is going to walk up and casually toss a couple of FedExes on my desk. And at that moment, we – and by we, I mean me – will be important. “

The paradigm has shifted. Our new arbiter is Google¹.

Because of Google’s methods popularity and/or importance are finally accurately quantified. It seems so wrong to take emotional concepts like important and popular and make them the output of a series of mathematical equations, but that’s exactly what happens!

google-on-how-to.jpgMy ‘aha’ moment came earlier this evening. I was trying to learn how to scoop data from an online database and massage it to produce a webpage. Actually what I wanted to do was unimportant because I only got as far as typing in “how to.”

Google was now working ahead of me, anticipating what I might type next. It unfurled a list of the most popular “how to” questions.

  • how to tie a tie.
  • how to kiss
  • how to get pregnant
  • how to lose weight fast
  • how to cook a turkey
  • how to solve a rubix cube
  • how to make a website
  • how to download youtube videos
  • how to write a resume
  • how to lose weight

I am surprised tying a tie has reached this level. Look a the competition it’s knocked off. Maybe I’m jaded because I tie one every day (Double Windsor knot), but I didn’t think there was this level of demand.

Considering “how to lose weight” appears in two different forms (normal and panicky) it probably belongs higher on the list.

Cooking a turkey and solving a rubix are both surprising entries, but just barely.

I’m not sure what’s more surprising–that there’s nothing truly weird or that the list is really so pedestrian.

Is this all we really want to know “how to” do? Can’t we get a little more creative?

¹ – I know Google is the authority because if you enter “Geoff,” I’m the sixth result. On Bing I didn’t show up in the first six pages of results. Yahoo! doesn’t list me through ten pages.

Who’s Spying On You? Nearly Everyone!

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Here’s another one of those stories that’s smoldering in the geekosphere but ready to light up like a Roman candle. A Freedom of Information request was sent to the US Justice Department by an Indiana University grad student looking for some insight into what info our government gets from our Internet service providers.

Before the DOJ could answer the ISPs chimed in. They were not happy.

From Wired: “Verizon and Yahoo intervened and filed an objection on grounds that, among other things, they would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public.”

Hey Verizon and Yahoo!, saying you’ll be ridiculed and publicly shamed isn’t going to make me less interested. It’s not something I want my government hiding behind either.

I am very uncomfortable if the people I entrust with my email or to provide my Internet access give away my secrets, often without a warrant. This is just plain wrong on a variety of levels.

And don’t think these are isolated incidents. You will be shocked by how often this happens!

From “slight paranoia“: “Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009.”

Like I said, this is smoldering now, but not for long.

Understanding More About New Media By Using It

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Thumbnail image for apple-iphone-3g.jpg“This American Life” the hard-to-describe (their description) NPR show is playing as I type this entry. It’s not on the radio. It’s not from a podcast. It’s playing on my iPhone.

Because the iPhone is part phone/part computer I can use the computer part to swoop onto the Internet and stream the show. And now the Internet is in my pocket, not just my house or where I work. This show–any show can follow me anywhere!

This is a concept I’d long understood. It didn’t have the impact it does when you’re holding a working example in your hand!

A few years ago I had a conversation with a co-worker about the implications of Internet in cars. “Another distraction,” she said, thinking of the Internet only in the ways we’d already seen it used. She doesn’t feel that way anymore.

The Internet will soon be everywhere we are. Think atmosphere. The Internet will be as ubiquitous as the atmosphere.

On my way to work I listen to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” It’s on a network of low powered stations none of which provides a dependable signal on my route. I have two buttons set so I can switch frequencies as one or the other gets ratty.

Starting later today I will try replacing those stations with what I expect to be crystal clear reception via my phone.

Is this technology the end of terrestrial radio as we know it? Commercial AM and FM are already in sad shape. How much more will it take to bankrupt the heavily leveraged companies that dominate station ownership today?

It’s not just radio. I’ve got bad news for me. I watched a fantasy football TV show produced by Yahoo! before making my roster moves today, The quality was excellent on my iPhone.

Will we compete with or embrace this technology? Is the inherent business structure of a TV station capable of even playing in this game? Who knows? It’s early.

The iPhone is such a game changer the real impact is difficult to grasp. And the iPhone is just the gateway drug–a proof of concept, if you will.

There are quantum leaps to come with fatter pipes and more robust devices for consumers. Eleven years ago there was no Google. What will there be eleven years from now?

Radio was worried it would be killed off by TV. Movies too. They thought TV was their death knell. They survived. In fact until recently they both thrived.

Will today’s media shift be similar, allowing older providers to adapt while adding new outlets, or is this new technology so radically different and more powerful that old school outfits just don’t stand a chance?

Rupert Murdoch From Both Sides Of His Mouth

Friday, October 9th, 2009

My friend Farrell forwarded an article from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News:

Rupert Murdoch has warned internet search engines the time has come for them to pay for news content.

The News Corp chief executive said sites such as Google and Yahoo, which take content from a range of sources, would soon be charged for the service.

This is totally within Murdoch’s right and if he wants to put his content behind a paywall he should. The New York Times used to do this with much of their exclusive content, like columnists, but later relented.

If taken at his word, Murdoch could implement a change to cut off search engines now.

To stop search engines from indexing your site you simply add a tiny text file to the root directory. It’s beyond simple and can be totally accomplished with one line of code. The Journal, or any news site, could do that in a few minutes.

Not only is that not what Murdoch’s doing–he is doing the opposite!

If you go to the Wall Street Journal site you’ll find many (not all) stories run for a few paragraphs and then stop with “…” Here’s an example I found in a link from the Journal’s home page:

As of July, nearly 90% of U.S. households paid for television either from cable, satellite or phone companies rather …

It’s obvious the story continues, but it only continues for subscribers.

However, if you enter that same sentence fragment into Google you get a link to the full Journal story!

As of July, nearly 90% of U.S. households paid for television either from cable, satellite or phone companies rather than getting it free from broadcast stations, according to Nielsen.

The Google link and the direct link from WSJ’s home page produce the same URL link. I believe WSJ’s website is configured to deliver the full content when the referrer is Google or Yahoo!, etc.¹

The URL for the Sky News story I quoted at the beginning of this post is optimized to make it more visible to search engines. Many of the story’s key words are embedded in it: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Business/News-Corp-Chief-Executive-Rupert-Murdoch-Tells-World-Media-Summit-Search-Engines-Must-Pay-For-News/Article/200910215402865?lpos=Business_First_Buisness_Article_Teaser_Region_0&lid=ARTICLE_15402865_News_Corp_Chief_Executive_Rupert_Murdoch_Tells_World_Media_Summit_Search_Engines_Must_Pay_For_News_.

The Journal and Sky probably do this because search engines drive traffic to their sites. Without the search engines wsj.com and sky.com would see a lot fewer hits. They are making money from those hits–though certainly not as much as they want nor probably not enough to survive in their current business model.

Murdoch blames the search engines, but the truth is the entire business model for advertiser supported information is broken. The type of journalism the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other ‘classic’ news sources provide is dependent on selling high cost advertising.

Unfortunately, the same eyeball on the net is worth a lot less than in the paper or on TV. It’s a matter of supply and demand. The Internet has opened up the supply so there’s nearly an infinite number of places to run your ad.

Murdoch will grouse and yell and flail like the bully he’s always been–but he’s screwed and he knows it. He’s not in that boat alone. Mass media as we know it is terribly ill.

¹ – My research on this is less than voluminous. How they do it isn’t as important as the fact they do it.

The Web As Retail

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Helaine and are trying to get our new website about celebrity sightings a little traction. Maybe I’m biased, but it looks great, functions well and has gotten rave reviews from nearly everyone whose seen it.

I’m trying anything/everything to get more celebrity stories. I’ve already written unsolicited emails to people whose stories I’ve seen on other sites. Tonight I tweeted a bunch of folks–again unsolicited.

This is the retail part of web management. I am not above begging for content on a one-to-one basis.

At this point each additional story is important. When someone hits the site I want them to see it as being an ongoing concern, not something brand new and still empty. And, I think it does look flush with content.

The coolest part of my simple analysis of our sparse traffic is the average visitor checks out nearly ten pages! I never expected that. That’s a lot. That’s a sign of compelling content.

Google, Yahoo and MSN, which had been restricted while the site was being polished, have now been unleashed. They are not as quick to index pages as I’d wish!

For instance, though Google acknowledges I have a sitemap up and my robots.txt file now allows them to roam freely, I have no pages indexed (other than the homepage) and see the old restrictive robots.txt file is still being followed!

“Googlebot crawls sites by following links from page to page. We had problems crawling the pages listed here, and as a result they won’t be added to our index and will not appear in search results.”

With time it will come, I suppose.

As always, if you have a celeb story I sure would like to see it on the site. Anonymous stories are fine.

I Need Your Help

Monday, February 16th, 2009

If you read this blog on a regular basis you know I’ve been obsessed with a web development project. It’s done!

Well, not exactly.

The website looks done but Helaine and I really won’t know if it’s totally working without testers. That’s where you come in.

The site is CelebShowAndTell.com. It’s set up to be a place where people tell their stories about celebrity meetings and run-ins. If you’ve ever run into a celeb ‘in the wild’ we want your story.

Right now Google, MSN, Yahoo and the others have been electronically asked not to index us. So you won’t find the site on a search engine–yet.

What we need are users to tell us what’s wrong or confusing and enough stories so when the site goes live it looks appealing. Even with the few stories we already have the site is a great read and I think you’ll enjoy it.

The early feedback is very good. We are very excited.

So, can I lean on you? Will you take a look and post a story if you have one? Everyone has at least one close encounter of the celebrity kind!

If you have any problems with the site or suggestions for how we can improve it drop us a line.

Did I mention we’re excited?

Website Gets Thrown Out And Rewritten

Friday, February 6th, 2009

striped-bkgnd.pngI have learned the pleasure and pain involved in website creation. This is pregnancy and childbirth combined. If nothing else it feels so good when you stop!

I woke up early this afternoon and discussed my design progress with Helaine. The site was just not looking right and I was considering throwing it all away–three full days of work. Unfortunately, it was becoming obvious more work wouldn’t fix my problems.

“I know that’s what you want to do,” she said. She didn’t encourage me to restart, but she didn’t discourage me either.

I bit the bullet and opened Putty, my SSH client. Putty resembles an old school terminal screen–black and white with no graphics. It’s powerful because Putty allows me to control the remote server. The commands are short and powerful. You can accidentally do a lot of damage with Putty!

mv site old_site

With that cryptic command three days of work was moved to the Internet equivalent of a railroad siding. Everything was intact but now out-of-the-way. I then created a new site directory, a new database and reinstalled a fresh copy of WordPress. It didn’t take more than ten minutes to have a fresh website.

Fresh and empty.

Last night I found Mimbo, a WordPress theme. I download a copy and activated it. These website condiments are small and download in a few seconds. Now I had the makings of a website.

Mimbo is touted as a ‘magazine’ theme. It isn’t made for blogging even though WordPress is primarily blogging software. It ‘ages’ entries in various categories independently of each other. It has room for an unbloglike ‘sticky’ entry which will remain prominently displayed even as new content slips beneath it.

Designing a website is conceptual. You need to think about how each piece will relate and interact with all the others. That is the part I was most confident about. It’s good to be naive!

By late afternoon the site was coming together nicely. Mimbo took care of most of my presentation worries. I customized its look. The polka dots at the top of this entry are part of the site’s background. Amazingly the pages look good! My main concern from the previous iteration was gone.

Now I was ready to install the key component of this site–the ability for users to create the content destined for the home page. The plugin didn’t work. It literally did nothing. I poured over forums and the sparse documentation that came with it.

The real shortcoming of free software isn’t how it works but how you learn to use it. Those who write software are seldom adept at telling others how to use it. I suspect a huge percentage of the best stuff in software is never used because no one knows it’s there.

I opened Putty again and made some changes to the inner workings of my web server. It was only a few lines of code–really someone else’s work cut and pasted. Immediately the plugin worked! My submission form was live.

I started to add dummy content to the site. These are entries that contain nonsense text. It looks like English but actually has no real words which might distract you. Online “Lorem generators” provide this stuff!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Duis vulputate elit vel dolor. Vivamus sollicitudin est nec eros vehicula dapibus. Vivamus in lorem. Curabitur at sapien tempor odio hendrerit lacinia. Suspendisse congue risus non justo. Nullam odio turpis, dapibus quis, sollicitudin quis, rutrum sit amet, orci.

It only looks like Latin! It’s gibberish.

Tonight I showed the incomplete site to a few friends. Most seemed suitably impressed.

It’s getting close. The next few dozen steps are cosmetic. Stylesheets will be tweaked. Some underlying HTML code will have to be reworked. In my dreams this doesn’t take long. In reality who knows?

Sometime in the next few days I’ll be asking for your help. In order for this site to go live it will need lots of user generated content. I’ll save the specifics for later.

This is a little one-man-band website. I take that back. It’s a one-woman-band website because it’s my wife’s and she will administer it.

It will not cure cancer. It will not compete with Yahoo! or Google. It has potential.

My Traffic Report

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I always keep an eye on the traffic to this site. My most watched gauge is my Google AdSense traffic–those little ads you see. Google keeps a tally of visitors¹ and an hourly reading is always on the bottom of my browser screen.

Humans and robots (and I’m visited by plenty of automated computers searching for Google, Yahoo, MSN and lot of other more niche oriented spiders doing who knows what) act differently on the net. More than likely you’re accepting my javascript and a robot is not. It’s useful to you but slows a robot down.

If you don’t execute javascript (and you probably do) I don’t count you. If you use AdBlock Plus, which I do, I don’t count you. If you’re reading this on a feed, I don’t count you.

Before last December’s hacking I was averaging 1,100-1,200 page views per day. Quickly my traffic fell first by 2/3 then rebounded to 1/2 where it’s remained. A few weeks ago the averages started rising to around 1,000 on weekdays. I assume Google has changed the weight it gives me. As in real life this weight is tough to control.

My ad revenue took a huge hit in December too. It fell to nearly zero. Now I’m back in the high two figures every day. Soon I could hit a dollar!

To me that says more readers are being brought in by search engines to my older pages. Every entry since July 4, 2003 is still online. I’m sure each page averages a handful of reads a a year, with a small few that get hundreds or thousands of reads a year.

When you run a website you realize the remarkable power wielded by Google. I respect that. This site is more search engine friendly than ever.

This whole traffic thing is a game to me and I enjoy playing.

¹ – Please do not click on ads as a favor to me.