As most search marketers know, you can do some very useful things with a good scraping script - from simple stuff to check out your competitors in bulk without alerting the search engines to well, just about anything.
Mostly scrapers are used for decidedly dark seo tactics, and thanks to Daniel Brandt who is currently in bed with Andrew Orlowski in a parnoid frenzy over at the Register you can be a search spammer too!
Way to go daniel, that's a really bright idea mate....
The Steve Jobs Experience
Om Malik has some great commentary on Steve Jobs' performance at the MacWorld Expo:
A very gaunt looking Steve Jobs, in his classic Levi’s-black turtle neck outfit walks on to the stage, with a purpose and a tentative smile. The hair is a little more gray, but it is still the same old Steve. A master salesman selling to the faithful. I shudder when he could do had he focused on religion instead of computers. He works the room with ease of a comedian on a good night.
There is no one in Silicon Valley who can match the intimacy Jobs has with the products he demos. He knows the intimate details, that little trick which is going to catch the fancy of the audience, prompting them to break into an involuntary applause. He cares… enough to make you buy his products. It is a masterful performance. Balanced, scripted perhaps, but nevertheless enjoyable.
Maybe Jobs' is the only CEO that could pull that off in light of all the recent contraversy, it remains to be seen i guess..
Apple's bite out of free speech
News comes in that Steve Safran at lost remote is calling for a blogging boycott on this weeks MacWorld expo over the recent law suits filed by apple against bloggers.
Well, bloggers may like to think special rights and privileges but here's the crux - they're just as human as the rest of us!
Bloggers forget all about law suits and wet pants over cool tech...
It just ain't gonna happen steve - everyone is going mad over the Mac Mini already and i cant see bloggers or anyone else being able to put the terrifying thought that their rival tech blogs may get the story first, or at all... heh..
Threadwatch member cornwall points out the the new M$ Explorer patch that fixes the astonishing vulnerability reported recently will block Adsense!
Jenifer Slegg of Jensense had this to say on the new patch, which sets the security level to HIGH:
But setting the security level to high for internet zone does more than protect the surfer from this browser exploit... it also blocks all Google AdSense ads from displaying within the browser. So anyone who follows their instructions will no longer be able to view and click on AdSense. The entire ad space usually occupied by AdSense will disappear.
This is actually very similar to the problem publishers have with Norton's Internet Security, which comes free on many new computers, with the "ad blocking" feature turned on my default. Most users have no idea they even have this option turned on.
If this fix becomes widespread - and depending on how long it takes Microsoft to issue a patch for this exploit - this could impact publisher earnings. And coming right on the heels of the upcoming Adwords affiliate changes, some publishers may be set up for a double hit to their earnings.
Damned if you do, damned if you dont. Interesting times for publishers ahead...
The Mac Mini
It's finally here, after weeks of Speculation, law suits, condemnation, analysis and user backlash....
The Mac Mini is Finally Here!
From the Mac Mini hompage:
Live the digital life in stylish simplicity. Just 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall, Mac mini provides what you need to have more fun with your music, photos and movies — right out of the box. And it boasts a miniscule price to match: Mac mini starts at $499.
and from the technical specs:
Introducing the Mac mini. Everything you need — and not an ounce more — to enjoy digital photos, music and movies. Get a fast G4 processor, slot-loading CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive and a reliable operating system in a body just 6.5-inches square and 2-inches tall. Simply add monitor, keyboard and mouse. You’ll be organizing music and photos, composing tunes and editing movies with iLife ’05 in no time. Surf the Internet with the peace of mind of the secure and stable UNIX-based Mac OS X operating system. And since Mac mini can do wireless, you don’t even have to put it near a phone jack. Configure your Mac mini with an AirPort Extreme Card, hook up an AirPort Express to your DSL connection or cable modem, and start surfing and printing wirelessly. Using AirPort Express and AirTunes, you can even listen to tunes from your Mac mini on speakers in a different room. Starting at just $499.
I.B.M. to Give Free Access to 500 Patents
As techdirt points out, the number of patents IBM are realeasing to Open Source is rather small, but may signify a shift in thinking regarding Intellectual Property. There has been much dirersion over Bill Gates' CNet interview where he essentially labeled free software advocates as "modern day communists". In light of that, and much more to be found all over the web it's refreshing to see a company like IBM make even a small step in, what I beleive, is the right direction.
From the NYT article threadlinked above:
The new model for I.B.M., analysts say, represents a shift away from the traditional corporate approach to protecting ownership of ideas through patents, copyrights, trademark and trade-secret laws. The conventional practice is to amass as many patents as possible and then charge anyone who wants access to them. I.B.M. has long been the champion of that formula. The company, analysts estimate, collected $1 billion or more last year from licensing its inventions.
The move comes after a lengthy internal review by I.B.M., the world's largest patent holder, of its strategy toward intellectual property. I.B.M. executives said the patent donation today would be the first of several such steps.
and further on..
"This is exciting," said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. "It is I.B.M. making good on its commitment to encourage a different kind of software development and recognizing the burden that patents can impose."
An open source Google - without the ads
Not entirely unsurprising that the Registers resident paranoic fruitcake Andrew Orlowski (see threadlink above) should hook up with notorious embittered SEO Daniel Brandt of Brandt Rant™ fame.
Check out the opening paragraph of Orlowski's piece:
With the hope of returning at least one corner of the web to its non-commercial roots, Google watcher Daniel Brandt, who curates the NameBase archive, has released the source code to a Google scraper. Brandt has been making an ad-free proxy available for two years using Google's little known minimal "ie" interface. By using this proxy, users bypass both Google's notorious "2038" cookie (that's when it expires) and the text ads.
Only someone of his towering parnoic calibre could write something like that about Brandt, who in the Search community is regarded as little more than a sad joke. One wonders why the register thinks this does them any good?
Bloglines comes out on top of the newley released stats from Feedburner with a whopping 32.86% of the market share. The poll has many caveats and the figures can only be taken as a rough guide at best but, they're very interesting nonetheless - Particlularly in light of talk about a Bloglines business model rumoured to be put into play later this year.
With an estimated 2 million users, Bloglines looks to have a clear advantage over it's nearest competitor, NetNewsWire who currently corner 16.95% on Feedburners poll of their top 800 feeds.
Here are the figures as they stand...
Firefox Live Bookmarks (7.78%)
(not identified) (4.07%)
My Yahoo (2.58%)
RSS Bandit (1.12%)
Opera RSS Reader (0.45%)
Y! finally weighs in with it's long awaited desktop search product. You can download the beta here. From the Yahoo! blog post threadlinked above:
Speed. YDS is really fast.
Instant Feedback. YDS provides incremental search, much like you find in Firefox. As you type each character of your search, the results are updated instantly. Not only does this mean less typing, but you'll catch spelling mistakes a lot faster too.
Comprehensiveness. YDS indexes a lot of file types. Over 200.
Built in Preview: YDS renders a preview view for most of the 200+ file types and enables you to page through the preview, so you don't need to launch the full-blown application just to see if you've found the right document. You can page through a PowerPoint, Word or PDF doc, examine individual cells in Excel, or even play an mp3 file--right there in YDS.
Actions. If you right click on a result, YDS provides a context-specific menu that allows you to do things with the email or document: reply, forward, print, open, etc.
Cost. YDS is free.
and a note on future direction:
We don't think you should have to think about where your stuff is stored in order to find it. That's where this is all headed. And as YDS evolves, you'll see that becoming more and more clear.
So, has anyone tried it yet? If so, what do you think?
Year of the Time Shift, 2005
Threadwatch member Earle Flynn posts an uncharacteristically prophetic piece at his blog, threadlinked above that explains the concept of time shifting and predicts that 2005 will be it's year.
He's not alone of course, there are some good links in the post to the CES 2005 press and coverage that echo's his statements. Im just glad someone finally put it into words a simple chap like me can understand, thanks Earle :)
This year will be all about time shifting, or for those who find the term time shifting too sci-fi, Multi-task 2.0. Time shifting is the idea that you can be in one location while another process is running on your behalf in another location performing a task that will benefit you, like save time, keep you informed, or both at the same time.
If you have telephone voice mail at your home residence then you have experienced time shifting but may have not realized that you had time shifted. Consider this common scenario, you leave your home. Your home phone receives a phone call. Since you are not home to receive the call your voice mail picks up the call on your behalf. A pre-recorded message is played to the caller and the caller leaves their voice message. When you return home, you are alerted to a waiting voice message by a flashing red light, at which point you listen to your voice message, presto, time shifting.
What it really means to design for mobile
MobileGirl, in the threadlink above has some very good, if rather broad points about designing applications for mobile and why thinking along those lines is crucial at this time:
as I learn more, get deeper into the interaction of the phones, and understand more about how these devices are changing our everyday habits, I am beginning to see that it's not even about making a compliment. It's about making a "mobile system", a "mobile interaction", a "mobile application". It's not about extending the desktop. It's not about interacting with the desktop. It's about making the mobile device a central unit and it's about placing a focus on the whole system... the phone and the desktop (maybe even the TV and radio). It's about figuring out when to push, when to pull, when to alert, notify, sync, and require confirmation. It's mostly about throwing out many of the interaction principles we've learned about and creating ones that make sense for that time and space. It's about giving the user the easiest way to access what they are looking for at any time and making it feel like they are in the application... not on one specific device!
Doesn't she write nicely? heh..
Good stuff, the thing that worries me most about the oncoming mobile shift is that right now, it's about applications - and i didnt even get profficient at Python let alone J2ME hehe...
What i'd like to know is just how much opportunity is there for web devs to get in on this without having to program applications, ie. to continue to build websites and market to a mobile audience....?
Verisign to buy LightSurf, a camera phone software company
Acquisition Will Add Picture Messaging Suite and Enhanced Multimedia Messaging Capabilities to VeriSign’s Digital Content Services
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — January 10, 2005 — VeriSign, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN), the leading provider of intelligent infrastructure services for the Internet and telecommunications networks, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Santa Cruz, California-based LightSurf for $270 million in VeriSign stock.
LightSurf is a global leader in multimedia messaging and interoperability solutions for the wireless market. The company’s industry-leading technology platform enables mobile subscribers to exchange pictures, video, and other forms of multimedia content.
I can see where Verisign is headed with this. Verisign will also provide the registry for domains for RFID tags. Think of the possibilities.. Mobile marketing getting interesting.
Satellite-based mobile television goes live
I vaguely recall reading some argument that satellite broadcast to mobile was not a viable option but for the life of me cant remember where, what or why - these guys seem to be doing it though...
TU Media Corp. will start trial operations of satellite-based mobile television today and attempt to realize the futuristic notion of watching television on mobile phones while traveling in cars or commuter trains.
The company, which hopes to begin commercial services on May 1, will provide three video and six radio channels during the trial period, featuring programs from leading cable television stations such as news network YTN and music channel m-Net.
Customers of SK Telecom Co., the country's largest mobile operator, can access the television services after purchasing Samsung Electronics Co.'s new SCH-B100 mobile phone that features a 2.2-inch liquid-crystal display and a battery capable of providing more than two hours of viewing time. The model is priced at 1 million won.
Spammers' New Tactic Upends DNS
This seems to be an unlikely technique to me, i mean, why register the domain at all...
One troublesome technique finding favor with spammers involves sending mass mailings in the middle of the night from a domain that has not yet been registered. After the mailings go out, the spammer registers the domain early the next morning.
By doing this, spammers hope to avoid stiff CAN-SPAM fines through minimal exposure and visibility with a given domain. The ruse, they hope, makes them more difficult to find and prosecute.
The scheme, however, has unintended consequences of its own. During the interval between mailing and registration, the SMTP servers on the recipients' networks attempt Domain Name System look-ups on the nonexistent domain, causing delays and timeouts on the DNS servers and backups in SMTP message queues.
New Links on MSN Search Beta Results Pages
Gary Price points out in the threadlink above that you can now get MSN Beta Search results as RSS - Gary, you need better titles mate :) I missed this one first time around, thanks Greg for making me take a 2nd look heh..
So, we have MSN providing RSS on their Beta search, Yahoo! News in RSS, CNN in RSS and a zillion other major sites includig News.com and the BBC of course but....
Where are Google's RSS Feeds?
Come on Google, i dont beleive for a moment that you're missing the importance of this feature (necessity..) but how bloody long does it take...?
Mike Grehan has slammed DUMPO and Babera Coll in particular, DUMPO's chief idiot in the threadlink above after Threadwatch first reported on a telephone conversation between newly formed SMA-NA director Ian McAnerin and Bulshy Babs.
"The vision of SEMPO is to be involved in the industry, not in the members necessarily."
Not only does that vindicate the many comments I've made about SEMPO not giving a damn about its members, it just goes to show how out of touch these people are with the industry. Or hasn't Barbara Coll yet noticed that the members ARE the industry.
And as if the members hadn't been belittled enough by this hugely arrogant organisation, mainly made from micro-firms like Barbara Coll's own, I should add, she then goes on to say:
"I don't think the regional SMA groups are going to focus on the industry, they seem to be about making sure the members are getting benefits."
No, Ms Coll, the SMA movement is about making sure they have THEIR say in the industry. It's about the way the industry develops and probably even ways they can protect themselves from cash grabbing, self appointed couldn't-care-less organisations like SEMPO.
It infuriates me to hear someone, who's own company employs less then three full time people (as far as I'm aware), talking down her nose about how she represents "the industry" and about "the members" as if we lived in a leper colony.
The threadwatch post over the weekend caused quite a stir, it seems that many blogs suddenly discovered Ians new blog all at the same time and reported on the story after threadwatch, fancy that eh? hehe...
Barbera, you're an idiot of the highest calibre and your reputation is in tatters, give it up with good grace for heavens sake and save us all the agony of watching DUMPO die a slow and painful death.
Google Riches Outed on the Web
Everyone feels equal when nobody knows how much the other makes. The SEC required Google to file documents on hundreds of employees stating exactly how much they made. This has caused, needless to say, tension.
The whole culture's really strange when there are two people in the same cubicle and one's worth $1 million and the other is worth nothing and they both know it," said one person close to the company. "It's created this asymmetry where some people feel more entitled than others."
Google, brimming with idealism and its seemingly altruistic goal of turning the world into a giant digital library, is now wrestling with the discomforting mixture of instant employee wealth and a little too much information of its own.
GM to reveal new model by Cellphone
This just in, seems like mobile is the new way forward for high ticket items - on a similar note Audi sent ads via USB sticks recently - seems sensible enough to me :)
At 2pm today, General Motors will hold a press conference to reveal its new Z06 model Corvette sports car - the fastest and most powerful model ever.
But the first pictures will be released via cellphone.
Anyone with a video-enabled mobile who is interested can call 888-579-4906 and arrange to have the info sent as soon as it is released.
If anyone in the US can get a hold of that it'd be great to hear about it...