~ Archive for Uncategorized ~

Dropbox & Evernote

ø

I’ve found two pieces of free software that are becoming very valuable to me.  They are Evernote and Dropbox.

Evernote

Evernote gives you a synchronized repository to store your notes in. Their free version gives you plenty of space for recording the information you are likely to jot down on a sticky note.  Their paid version gives you more of the features you’d need to use them as a paperless office management system. I recently had to ship my computer out to be fixed.  I simply installed Evernote on my wife’s laptop, synched it with their servers and I was back up and running with all my notes. For more information see this Evernote Review.

Dropbox

The second piece of software that I’m starting to depend on is Dropbox.  Dropbox syncs in a way similar to Evernote, but you can store any type of file in it. They give you 2 GB for free, but you can increase it to 5GB by referring friends to sign up. Dropbox is great when you need to keep a handful of files synced between multiple computers.  The size limitation of the free version doesn’t let you sync large documents, but it is more than adequate to move a few presentations and word documents around. For more information see our Dropbox review.

A few techy links

ø

Google Gears, iPhone, and Safari

1

These three things may really change the face of web applications.  Google gears lets you store information locally so you can use your web application offline.  Right now the only program I know that uses Gears is Google Reader.  There is a standalone program for Windows and a Firefox program for OS X that will let you use the Gears capability.  With Google Reader it lets you download your feeds and read them offline.  The capabilities are very limited.  You can’t change the category of a feed.  It will only let you mark them as read and then sync.  Even with just this basic functionality it is a huge step forward in web applications.

This week it was announced that there would be no SDK for the iPhone.  Apple expects developers to just write web applications for anything on the iPhone.  Obviously this is pretty limiting–especially when the iPhone has been touted as running an actual version of OS X.  To help give people a way to test their applications, Apple released a beta version of Safari for Windows.

In Google’s discussion about Gears, they said that they are making a version for Safari.  If this happens and if it is something that Apple will incorporate into the iPhone, it could give developers the capability to create applications on the iPhone that go well beyond current web applications.

American Debt

1

I read a story about a poll that was taken of high school students. The object was to find out how much they expected to make once they were out of college and had a few years of job experience. The average expected salary? $145,000 per year.

I think this may be one of the reasons that American’s accumulate so much debt. Students graduate and start spending money based on what they expect their salary to be–not necessarily what is realistic. Their high salary expectations can encourage them to go deep into debt in obtaining their education–after all a 6 figure salary is only a few years away.  When they get out of college they are starting out with a huge amount of college loans, but their high salary expectations keep them spending away.

Within a few years they are drowning in debt and looking for credit counseling, debt consolidation loans or even bankruptcy. By the time they come to the conclusion that they aren’t going to be making that much money the damage is done and they are deep in debt–beyond what they can fix by simply being financially frugal.

Google Crime

ø

Google Crime
The act of doing something with your website that Google doesn’t like. Using paid links, cloaking, etc. are examples of Google Crime. Google crime is punishable by a penalty in their rankings or being dropped from their index entirely.

Google and Paid Links

1

Google is asking people to submit sites that are selling or buying links.  This is an interesting move.  It sounds like their goal is to test some new algorithms that will automatically discount the value of links if it appears they have been purchased.  My guess is that they aren’t going to manually go through and penalize sites, they are just going to try to set the algorithms to discount any PR that comes from paid links.  At least that is what I hope they do.  It is possible that they may penalize sites for selling links or penalize sites for buying them.

This seems unlikely.  Google tends to favor algorithms over manual penalties.  It appears that their mindset is to make the Google results reflect what is popular on the web.  Since paid links are now part of the game, they will adjust their algorithms accordingly.

Here are some of the side effects I think this will have:

  • Lists of links will lose a lot of value.  Blogrolls and the like will probably stop passing as much PR because they tend to be formatted and placed in ways that is similar to paid links.
  • Editorial links will probably become more valuable. People will probably sell incontent links instead of just links on the side of the page to help make the links keep their value.
  • Some pay-per-post type sites may stop requiring “Paid Review” disclosures.  It seems that if Google wants to discount paid posts, they are going to have to look for the terms “Paid Review” or “Sponsored Post” or a PayPerPost badge.

So how can Google detect paid links using an algorithm?  Here are a couple thoughts:

  • Look for the keywords.  Things like “Sponsored”, “Advertisers”, “Paid Review”, “Sponsors”, etc. and discount the page rank passed by links near those terms.
  • Look at the location.  Links grouped together in a list to the side of the content may increase their paid-link score. I think Google already does this with blog comments.  Links in comments seem to be weighted less than links in the actual story.
  • Look at context.  Lists of links that go to sites that seem out of character.  For example, if Google knows that 50% of the personal finance blogs link to Yahoo’s online quote system, that link might not look out of character to find in the sidebar of a personal finance blog.  However a list of links that doesn’t appear on any similar sites may look out of character.
  • Look at how the links change.  Links that remain static for a year may have a lower paid-link score than links that are swapped out with new links every month.

Some additional discussion here and here.

What is a Sitewide Link on JohnChow.com Worth?

4

A week ago I sat down and decided to see what type of traffic is generated by having a link from John Chow.  I posted a bunch of comments and made it to the top commentator’s list where I remained for a week.  At the end of the week, I had a total of 48 visitors from JohnChow.com.  Most of them came from the main page.  47 came to my front page.  The other probably followed a deep link from the review John did of www.productivity501.com.

I was actually surprised at how low the numbers were.  With a paid review and a sitewide link in the sidebar and a link on a bunch of comments, there were only 48 clicks.  I’m curious how many unique visitors John gets in a week.  I haven’t been able to find it in any of his posts, so I’m guessing it isn’t very high.

John is doing an excellent job of marketing his blog and revealing just the information that will help him become more popular.  It will be very interesting to see if he can keep this up to the point that the blogs popularity becomes on par with the image he is projecting.

There is quite a bit to learn from watching his site and most of it isn’t showing up in the posts. :)

Leadership501

ø

Leadership501 is a site full of articles about leadership. I created it to be a reference for people looking to improve their leadership skills.  I have found that much of the current leadership writing either focuses on being inspirational or very theoretical, so my goal is to try to create something that is practical and useful.  Something along the lines of “Here is how to handle situation X and why you should handle it that way.”

Today I ran across a blog with a post that was linking to the site with some good things to say about one of my articles.  Jason says he liked my article enough that he read the entire thing.  I’m glad he liked it because when I was writing that particular article I remember thinking, “This is pretty long.  I wonder if anyone will actually read the whole thing?”  I decided that even if no one read it I need to write it for myself.

In his post he makes some good points about setting goals and walks the reader through his goal setting process.  It is worth reading.  I like where he said that in the initial stage the only “rule” is that if he thinks it, he writes it down. Anyway it is worth a read and his blog is one I’ll be adding to my RSS feeder.

My Mexican Workspace

4

Gary Lee (www.mrgarylee.com) is running a workstation contest for people who work from home, so I thought I’d enter my photo of the work area I had setup in Durango Mexico. (My current desk is undergoing the tax season and newborn baby insurance bill attack, so it will probably be a few weeks before I see my entire desktop again).

Anyway if you click on the photo you’ll get a bigger version and a longer description. Basically this was the setup I used when we were in Mexico. There is a cable modem behind the monitor and all of our voice and data ran through that connection. On the desk are two cell phones. One is a Blackberry with the voice part forwarded to our Vonage phone line. I used it for email. The second is a phone our friends loaned us that had a local Mexican number.

I don’t know that my workstation on the little plastic table will win any awards in the US, but for a place to work full time in our bedroom, it worked out great.  I’m a big fan of large monitors so the 24 inch flatpanel was almost a necessity. I was a little worried about being able to take it into Mexico.  If the custom’s officials thought it was a flat panel TV, I could of had a problem.  I had it packed in a large monitor bag that was designed for carrying around the big iMac.  It worked out well because the officials didn’t even try to look in the bag.

One problem I had with this setup was the folding chair I was using.  It was slightly bend so three or four times a day it would just collapse.  I’d generally catch myself before I ended up on the floor, but it kept me on my toes.  I must say that my trusty leather desk chair that I’m back to using in the US is very welcome.

Amazon Context Ads

ø

Amazon has launched an open beta of their contextual ads.  You install a piece of javascript at the bottom of your HTML page and it  will create links from words in your text to amazon products.  When you mouse over the links it shows you a preview of the product.  Clicking on the link takes you to the product page.

amazon-context.png

amazon-context.pngHere are a few initial thoughts:

  1. The links look like regular links.  They aren’t the double underlines that other inline ad links use. This might cause some confusion because users can’t tell what ads are actually in your text and which ones came from Amazon (until they are moused over).
  2. You have the ability to determine the maximum number of ads per page to tailor things for your audience.
  3. The ads don’t show up immediately.  You Amazon has to scan your page first kind of like the Google Adsense Bot.
  4. Some of the ads don’t seem particularly well targeted. They match the word, but not necessarily the meaning.  For example a page about cell phone batteries had an ad linking to a fiction book with the words batteries in the title.

All in all it looks like a decent way to monetize some content, but I’m concerned about the confusion for the users.  They may not look at any of your links once they have  clicked on a few and discovered that they are links to Amazon.

Log in