Recently in Commentary & Misc.

This is ridiculous

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More gross overreach by Google - If you use Google services, you could become an ad next month.

Why would a corporation think this is okay to do? Why would they want to? Why would any "user" willingly participate?

I am working up a major rant about Google... coming soon.

The return of iBizDaily

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I will admit to having bigger plans for this blog when I started it, but like most things I do the germination process can take years. I got it off the ground, but never really gave it the attention it needed. This post hopefully changes that.

I just added a couple of links in the blog roll in the right column - to asymco and Apple 2.0. These are both more business and news related but are things I think anyone who visits this site should probably be keeping an eye on.

I am also planning some articles on affiliate marketing and app making/design etc. As well as web advertising and development in general. Basically the things we work on and read about all day long.

So, more to come. Stay tuned -

Headlines

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Couple of headlines, seemingly unrelated probably to most:

Confirmed: Time Inc. Buys Personal Shopping Engine StyleFeeder

The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site

So what is going on here? I am going to guess you have never heard of Stylefeeder. The genius who started it up a few years ago is walking with perhaps tens of millions (the article says, "well into eight figures."). This site (to my recollection) was started up so his girlfriend could more easily share stuff she found online with her friends. Of course now it is called a fancy "personal shopping engine". What it is is pure genius - no inventory, very low cost, community based, and churning out cash sending shoppers to online stores.

And then, the NY Times, instead of ever going forward - stepping back in time and again thinking they are going to charge for content. Really? Why have the people at the Times failed to morph/grow/invent anything new with all the web traffic they have? Why do all these dead tree companies let others innovate, and then pay through the nose (hello About.com!) to try to... to try to do I don't know what. What in the world did the Times ever think it was going to do with About.com? And now you have Time Inc. paying for Stylefeeder, which they'll probably screw up and drive people away from.

But the richest part to me is the absolute hubris of people like Bill Keller (the Times executive editor) - here is how he sees the plan:

"It underscores the value of what we do -- trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism, which is an increasingly rare and precious thing," Mr. Keller said. "And it gives us a second way to sustain that hard, expensive work, in addition to our healthy advertising revenue."

This is flat our crazy talk. "trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism"? I got two words for you Bill - Judith Miller.

So where am I meandering to? Time Inc. should have been developing properties like Stylefeeder for years now. Again, they already had a huge online presence, well known brands, etc. and instead of having anyone with vision, they are now going out and straddling themselves no doubt with more debt in a race to compete.

The NY Times is even worse - they are absolutely deluded in their thinking that their reporting has unique value because it is done by reporters. That ship has sailed. People are and will continue to get more and more of their news online, for free, from passionate writers who know about their subjects (yes - that dreaded word - bloggers!). The Times should be fostering an independent, vetted, global writing team, sans salaries, that gets paid a portion of advertising revenue based on the revenue their reporting generates. Yes it will need editors and controls, but could you imagine the quality and insights gained from people writing about subjects they know about? (I am sure you can because if you are reading this drivel you probably read other blogs too!).

Something has got to give in the dead tree, brain dead corporate news and infotainment world. Hashing out what and when to charge for your content every few years isn't going to make it!

FTC Guidelines Raise Big Blogging Questions

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This is one of the biggest crocks of crap I have ever heard:

The Federal Trade Commission has released its revised guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. The revisions include a focus on "bloggers" and social media users, requiring them to properly disclose when they have received payment in the form of either money or product from a company or organization and produce content regarding said company or organization. The word is that bloggers can be fined up to $11,000 per post for not disclosing.

And then (par for the course) Matt Cutts chimes in on the side of the FTC:

"As a Google engineer who has seen the damage done by fake blogs, sock puppets, and endless scams on the internet, I'm happy to take the opposite position: I think the FTC guidelines will make the web more useful and more trustworthy for consumers," he says. "Consumers don't want to be shilled and they don't want payola; they want a web that they can trust. The FTC guidelines just say that material connections should be disclosed. From having dealt with these issues over several years, I believe that will be a good thing for the web."

How about the FTC regulates Google? How about that Matt? Just this week I found several websites set up promoting a high end shoe brand. How did I find these? From Google AdWords campaigns. But guess what? The ads themselves feature stolen creative from other retailers, the sites all play on trademarked names, and then when you go to them they all profess to be selling name brand merchandise for unheard of discounts. Why? Because the whole thing is a scam run from China and no doubt whatever you order is not real merchandise. This is the kind of "payola" Google is peddling to "consumers" right now - today! Sure, we'll take your pay per click money! Oh - you are fraudulently using other peoples creative, misleadingly trading off brand names, and selling fake merchandise... look - over there - a blogger!

Matt Cutts... give me a break!

Is your data center this cool?

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In my eight years at working for ibm.com, I never got a chance to see where our servers where hosted. But I can guarantee, it was probably not at as cool a facility as this one.

Not that 'coolness' is a prerequisite for choosing a data center, but it sure is fun.

10 skills developers will need in the next five years

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Just came across this from techrepublic.com... basically its a list of skills developers will need in the next 5 years:

With the recent changes in the economy, a lot of developers are focused on their short-term job prospects. At the same time, it's important to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to taking the time and energy to learn new skills. Here is our list of 10 skills you should be learning right now to make sure that your resume is relevant for the next five years. The list is hardly exhaustive, and there are huge swaths of the industry it won't cover (mainframe developers, for example). Nonetheless, for average mainstream development, you can't go wrong learning at least seven of these skills -- not only to the point where you can talk convincingly about them at a job interview, but actually use them on the job.

Here is the list

1: One of the "Big Three" (.NET, Java, PHP)
2: Rich Internet Applications (RIAs)
3: Web development
4: Web services
5: Soft skills
6: One dynamic and/or functional programming language
7: Agile methodologies
8: Domain knowledge
10: Mobile development

Check out the full post over at techrepublic.com.

Why Wolfram Alpha won't replace Google

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Here are a few interesting viewpoints on why Alpha wont be a google killer, but a new kind of service that can function side by side.

This is from Doug Lenat - I was positively impressed with Wolfram Alpha:

At one extreme is, say, Google, which responds to almost anything like a faithful puppy bringing in the morning newspaper without understanding much of anything it's fetching (recognizing words in what it returns, often leading to amusing or hair-raising inappropriate "ads" being displayed, and leading to tons of false positives and false negatives). At the other extreme is, say, Cyc, which only can answer a small fraction of user queries, but can answer ones that require common sense (not just common sense queries like "Do surgeons often operate on themselves?", but ones where the logical application of such knowledge is required to correctly disambiguate and parse the user's query containing pronouns, elisions, ambiguous words, ellipsis, and so on) and where every piece of the query and every piece of the answer is as deeply understood as, say, arithmetic. Wolfram Alpha is somewhere around the geometric mean of those two extremes.

And this is from Physorg.com:

"Wolfram Alpha, at its heart, is quite different from a brute force statistical search engine like Google," Spivack said. "And it is not going to replace Google - it is not a general search engine," he said, adding that content sites like Wikipedia are more similar to Alpha than Google is.

"You would probably not use Wolfram Alpha to shop for a new car, find blog posts about a topic, or to choose a resort for your honeymoon," he said. "It is not a system that will understand the nuances of what you consider to be the perfect romantic getaway, for example - there is still no substitute for manual human-guided search for that. Where it appears to excel is when you want facts about something, or when you need to compute a factual answer to some set of questions about factual data."

Wolframalpha.com goes live May 9th... make sure to check it out. My first query will be "who am I?" - second query - "how did I get here?"

The next major search breakthrough?

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This week we will be discussing wolframalpha.com.The next big thing in search... or so it seems.

Wolframalpha.com is a "computational knowledge engine", basically its an answer engine and not a search engine. What that means is instead of searching the way we do today by entering a query into google like "what is pi", this technology will allow you to ask "what is the 10,000th digit of pi", so the query is a computation as opposed to a lookup.

Whats behind wolframalpha.com is "trillions of pieces of curated data and millions of lines of algorithms."

This is from twine.com:

Wolfram Alpha is a system for computing the answers to questions. To accomplish this it uses built-in models of fields of knowledge, complete with data and algorithms, that represent real-world knowledge.

For example, it contains formal models of much of what we know about science -- massive amounts of data about various physical laws and properties, as well as data about the physical world.

Based on this you can ask it scientific questions and it can compute the answers for you. Even if it has not been programmed explicity to answer each question you might ask it.

But science is just one of the domains it knows about -- it also knows about technology, geography, weather, cooking, business, travel, people, music, and more.

It also has a natural language interface for asking it questions. This interface allows you to ask questions in plain language, or even in various forms of abbreviated notation, and then provides detailed answers.

The vision seems to be to create a system wich can do for formal knowledge (all the formally definable systems, heuristics, algorithms, rules, methods, theorems, and facts in the world) what search engines have done for informal knowledge (all the text and documents in various forms of media).

Isn't this askjeeves.com on HGH? I'm skeptical that this is in anyway a google killer, but I can see its relevance... let's see how the week progresses as we dive into this one.

Time to look into developing a Facebook app

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I came across this today:

Some Indie Facebook Developers Pulling In Over $700,000 A Month

The mass media may be enamored of the rags-to-riches stories of developers on Apple's App Store, but it isn't the only game in town for indie developers to strike it rich. We've gotten word from SocialMedia, a popular ad platform for social network applications, that one of the company's clients pulled in over $700,000 in advertising revenues from their Facebook apps in December alone. Granted, this was spread over 30+ of the client's applications, but the company only consists of a handful of (very prolific) developers.

I found a good article over at softwaredeveloper.com on how to get started... I'm going to read up on the basics listed below:

1. Anatomy of a Facebook Application: A quick overview of a Facebook application; useful to familiarize yourself with the process before starting out.

2. Facebook Developer's Platform: From documentation to resources and tools, this is your one-stop resource for achieving deeper integration between Facebook and your app.

3. Facebook Developer Documentation: A beginner resource for details of the API, as well as the Facebook query and markup languages.

4. Facebook Step-by-Step: Now that you have the background, Facebook's official application guide will walk you through achieving "Hello World" Facebook integration.

5. Facebook FAQ: Answers the questions that Facebook developers most often ask

Now I just need a good idea...I will keep you posted.

Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0

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This is an interesting take on web 2.0 vs web 3.0 from Eric Schmidt CEO of Google.

At the Seoul Digital Forum in May 2007, he was asked to define Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. He responded:

"Web 2.0 is a marketing term, and I think you've just invented Web 3.0. But if I were to guess what Web 3.0 is, I would tell you that it's a different way of building applications... My prediction would be that Web 3.0 will ultimately be seen as applications which are pieced together. There are a number of characteristics: the applications are relatively small, the data is in the cloud, the applications can run on any device, PC or mobile phone, the applications are very fast and they're very customizable. Furthermore, the applications are distributed virally: literally by social networks, by email. You won't go to the store and purchase them... That's a very different application model than we've ever seen in computing"

Network Solutions "Front Running" domain names

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Does Network Solutions "Front Run" domain names? Yes - they did it to me recently. I searched for a domain for client, using the Network Solutions site out of habit. A couple of days later, when the client indicated they did want the name, I tried to register it at GoDaddy, but it was listed as taken. I was sort of shocked, because the name was very specific to their business and contained many dashes "-".

So I went back to Network Solutions, and there I was able to register the name - at three times the price. I think this practice is wrong on a lot of levels, but the main one is that contrary to what Netsol CEO Champ Mitchell is saying to the media lately ("After the search ends, we will put the domain name on reserve. During this reservation period, the name is not active. If a customer searches for the domain again during the next four days at networksolutions.com, the domain will be available to register. If the domain name is not purchased within four days, it will be released back to the registry and will be generally available for registration."), it is bad for the consumer. Their pricing is prohibitive to other registrars, and just because someone searched on a name, doesn't mean it should be temporarily taken off the market, in effect giving Netsol a monopoly on that name for several days. This issue needs to be addressed by ICANN or someone who has the regulatory powers to ban such practices.

Fleshing out the new site

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We are busy here just trying to get the feel for the new site. Playing with the style sheet, coming up with the categories, etc. I think one of the things I have decided is that this will definitely be a work in progress type site. We are going to tell you what we are doing as we do it. You will see the mistakes (and hopefully the successes) as they happen.

A little bit about the nuts and bolts. This site is being run with MovableType. This is commonly known as blog software but it really is much more than that and can be very powerful when used as a Content Management System (CMS). I am not going to pretend I know a lot about MovableType - it can get fairly complex, but there are a lot of places to get help with it and there are also other versions (TypePad for example) that are available depending on your needs.

So you want to run a business on the web?

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iBizDaily is a new website/blog that will be bringing you news, tips, advice, and hands on experience about how to run a business on the web. From hosting, marketing, and new technologies, to search engine optimization and shopping carts, we will try to bring you our real world experiences with a fresh perspective. Check back soon.

Thanks,

Anthony for iBizDaily.com

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