Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rocky Mountain Homes for Sale, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Welcome to Mountain Homes

I've been going up to the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for fantastic dry powder skiing for a few years now. We're fortunate enough to have a couple of condos in the family, because of all the places I've ski'ed - Whistler, Tremblant, Switzerland, Vermont, New York, Banff, Lake Louise, etc... this is one of the nicest.

Located just outside Golden B.C. the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Ski Village (KHMR) is nestled high above the valley. The views are gorgeous, and it's extremely private.

Anyhow, property is at a premium up there - I know people who have been on wait lists for over 2 years, and the list just keeps growing. These two spots came available, and thought I would share them with anyone who was interested. Based on what's been going on in the rest of the resort, they make for a great investment.

KHMR features the best skiing I've enjoyed in years - my son loves going there for a week each year, and playing in the snow!


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Alberta may invoke notwithstanding clause over same-sex marriage

The Justice Minister in the Province of Alberta has announced that he may ask their Legislature to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to allow officials in the province from having to marry same-sex couples.

Alberta's stated goal in consideing this action is to protect officials, including religious officials, from being forced to perform same-sex marriages if it goes against their religious beliefs. Notwithstanding the moral issue of whether or not one supports same-sex marriages, this plan is foolhardy, and sets a horrible precedent for the legal system.

I can understand that religious officials should not be forced to take actions which go against their faith. That's part of the two way street which defines the separation of Church and State. However, this Act would allow government officials who are uncomfortable with same-sex marriage to refuse to perform such a ceremony. That sets a horrible precedent. Government officials must, by definition carry out the law of the land. They should not have the right to interpret it according to their own personal beliefs. It's a right they waive when they choose to work for the government.

A police officer cannot decide when to enforce the law based on personal beliefs. The law is the law, and they have to apply it fairly, and uniformly.

Setting a precedent wherein government officials are allowed apply the law uniquely based on personal beliefs is assinine. Opening the door to permitting any government official to refuse to carry out the law of the land based on their beliefs (which may change over time) is outrageous.

Can you imagine how many potential court cases could be brought by government officials who do not wish to enforce a particular law, and use this precedent to argue that doing so infringes on their personal beliefs? Most of these cases would be entirely without merit and thrown out, but they would be heard, and would uselessly cost taxpayer dollars to resolve. Quebec's use of the Notwithstanding Clause has brought forth numerous court challenges. Those cases were narrowly defined against a law that deprived Rights clearly set out in the Charter. Imagine the cases where the Rights being contemplated are not clearly defined?

I understand that public opinions on the same-sex issue in Alberta are more extreme than in other provinces, and that there is a difference of perspective on the issue right across the land from region to region. I have no issue with the differences of opinion, in fact I respect them. Those differences, and our Nation's tolerance thereof is what makes this a wonderful country to live in. The fact we are even able to debate the issue is extremely valuable.

I would hope that the Government in the Province of Alberta will allow cooler heads to prevail, and not make this socially divisive issue more of a lightening rod than it already is.

I believe that our governments must continue to recognize that religious officials must have the right to practice according their faith. It would be ludicruous to suggest that a Catholic Priest should marry a same-sex couple. That goes against Church teachings and fundamentals. It is also unlikely that a actively practicing Catholic would be in the situation wherein they would make such a request, for their personal beliefs would be completely in conflict with their faith.

I believe that our governments must remain outside the bedrooms, and religious halls of our people. It must ensure that our citizens have the right and ability to practice their faith according to their own beliefs, and to expect and respect the same in others. That respect will sometimes conflict with our own beliefs, but that's part of our choice to live in a free society.

*****


In case you are wondering what the Notwithstanding Clause is, here's a very short explanation:

Many Countries have something similiar to the U.S. Bill of Rights. In most cases, these Bill of Rights do not allow any exceptions. Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which does include an ability for the Provincial (State) or Federal (National) government to opt out, or to make an exception. This clause is known as the Notwithstanding Clause, and is section 33 of the Charter itself. The Charter also forced all Provinces to respect a standardized code. The Provinces which had pre-existing Acts were allowed to retain them, but they could only be applied to further extend Rights beyond the scope envisioned by the Charter, not to lmiit them beyond the scope of the Charter.

The notwithstanding clause allows the federal government or a provincial government to create legislation whcih overrides sections of the Charter that deal with freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. There are a number of other Rights defined in the Charter from which no government can opt out. These 'irrevocable' rights include democratic rights, freedom of movement, and the equality of men and women.

The notwithstanding clause, or ability to opt out, is temporary. Any such legislation automatically expires after five years, or can be repealed sooner. However, it can also be re-enacted indefinitely. It has been applied repeatedly in the Province of Quebec to defend Bill 101, which limits language related rights.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London Blasts - Terrorist Strategy?

On my way into work this morning, I heard the news of the new round of explosions in London.

Just like the July 7 bombings, these four were near simultaneous, three on the Tube (Subway / Metro), and one on a bus. Fortunately, no one was killed, and only one person mildly injured. These explosions were minor by comparison to July 7, and apparently only were caused by detonators. No additional expolives were involved.

There will of course be innumerable questions that will arise as a result of this 'copycat' attack. Was it related to the first attack, or merely opportunistic? What can be done to prevent another round?

It really does not matter whether or not this is a follow on attack, or an opportunistic copycat action. It will have succeeded in making some people afraid. Sadly, that is the terrorists goal; to seed fear in the populace. Alternately, a number of people will shrug off this attack, and with typical British flair, will comment more on how the bumblers messed up. They'll show a sense of bravado. It is definitely steeling the resolve of people to deal with the the terrorist threat.

The fact is, the terrorists don't need to set off large bombs with each attack. If they keep setting off small attacks, and only occasionally set off a large one, they'll likely succeed in making people paranoid. Hopefully it won't reach that stage though.

Interestingly, and hopefully, the 'success' of this small attack might also work against them. People will become more vigilant. They will learn to watch for signs, they will become more aware of what's going on around them, and the authorities will get more useful tips and information to work with, which will allow them to prevent more attacks.

Having dealt with the IRA for so long, Britian's security forces are more prepared than most for this type of counter-intelligence, and for the infiltration of potential threats. Hopefully, they can learn enough and will be able to identify individual cells based on commonalities or relationships, and shut them down before they can act.

In the immediate future, I hope that the perpetrators of these attacks will hopefully be found quickly, and brought to justice. Hopefully enough can be learned during the investigation to prevent other attacks by realated groups.

I am grateful that no one was seriously insured in these attacks. I hope that Londoners can return to their routines quickly, and that no future incident occur.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Jude Law apologizes for affair with nanny

What's wrong with the world when:

a) An entertainer feels a need to publicly apologize for a personal indescretion?
b) The item itself is considered newsworthy?

A lot.

I know gossip pages exist, and some people make a living off reporting "The dirt ma'am, just the dirt" But top page news in multiple countries? Give me a break!

MSNBC
CTV - Canada
BBC

When Michael Jackson was being tried, I understand it was newsworthy. It would have been reported had it been John Smith. The fact that it was a high profile entertainer was accused of one of the most heinous acts meant that it was news everywhere. But where is the line? Is it that the line no longer exists? I wonder.

It's a shame that Mr. Law feels a need to publicize his indesrection. It makes it hard for entertainers to request 'private time' when they work so hard to make everything else known.

It's worse that we, the public, buy into their media machines, and even care about what's going on in their lives. Must be something missing from our own lives if we have the time to worry about theirs.




Wednesday, July 13, 2005

We Are Not Afraid - London Underground

Saw this post, and image on Warren Kinsella's blog. He's absolutely right on this one - terrorism is all about creating enough fear in people to prevent them from acting. It's like bullying, but on a larger scale.

The image is one of defiance. It's quite powerful in its simpicity. Here's the image:




Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Winnipeg crowned Slurpee capital of the world

Wow - there's something to be proud of. The article seems to indicate that more Slurpees are consumed in Winnipeg than any other city in the world. While
400,000 slurpees a month is a lot for a city of 650,000 people, I would be inclined to think it may be the per capita leader, not the overall leader by volume. I'm kind of amazed the stat is public, but then, what stat isn't?

Winnipeg is home to some of the nicest people I have ever met. They don't live in "Friendly Manitoba" for nothing! Here's some information on the city and a couple of pictures of Winnipeg, and a nice shot of the Northern Lights.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Exciting Start - the Last Word ( ! )

So apparently the event, (see Exciting Start comment), made it onto the news earlier tonight. Must have been a very, very slow day on the local scene!

Anyhow, I found out the other half of the "last one was a sausage" comment.

The officer wasn't kidding when he said that at least this one looked like something" I just learned that it turns out the sausage that was called in was a stick of pepperoni that some guy found in his own fridge when he woke up!!! I don't think they needed the explosives expert to help ID that one! :-)

I think that was my best laugh of the day.

Ahenakew stripped of Order of Canada

It's official.

In follow up to last week's post, I just wanted to share the news that Daniel Ahenakew has been officially stripped of the Order of Canada.

Mr. Ahenakew was awarded the Order of Canada in 1978 for his workas a member of a United Nations committee as well as the World Indigenous Peoples Council. He also served as leader of the Assembly of First Nations.

Here's the essence of what he said. While speaking with a reporter in Saskatoon on Dec. 13, 2002, he said that the Jews were a "disease" and Hitler was trying to "clean up the world" when he "fried six million of those guys" during the Second World War. While he continued on with his tirade, he offended almost every listen with his racist drivel. Fortunately, the moment was properly documented, and the Judicial system handled the matter properly.

After his conviction last week, Ahenakew stated "If an Indian slips a little bit, you are crucified." He also blamed the Jewish community for efforts to revoke his membership in the Order. "This, of course, was the direct result of the pressure put on the [Governor-General's] advisory committee by some of the Jewish community, including a letter-writing campaign and the lobbying by the Canadian Jewish Congress," he said during a press conference Friday. "The decision by the advisory council is a clear indication of where the power in this country lies," he continued.

Utterly despicable.

Fortunately, Canada has both strong Freedom of Speech laws, and strong anti-hate laws. Fortunately, the Judiciary in Canada does act, and enforce these laws. Dealing with these issues in this manner sets the right tone for all to follow. Hatred should have no place at the table of Free Speech.

Exciting Start

Got to the office at Metamend a little this morning, and things really took off. The phones were blaring, a hundred and one questions flyinng about, and then Todd buzzed me. "Hey, can you come down here for a minute, right away?" So off I went. I figured that he was going to be showing me some progress on one of the projects, or something. I head downstairs, and they tell me he's out back. Now I'm getting really curious...

So there I find him, next to our dumpsters, and he mentions that someone broke into one of the dumpsters over the weekend. Then, he points out a strange looking object, we can't quite see all of it, as part is partially covered, but it's got red tape around it, is sort of swollen, about 8 inches long, and 2 inches in diameter. Part of it looks like it's been blown open. Curious geeks that we are, we look closer and closer. But we still can't be sure what it is. So we ask some more people to take a look. "Curiousity killed the cat," everyone looks at it closely "Ah, I think you should call it in..." is the common remark.

So we call the police, who send a car out. The officer looks at it, and tells us: "You better back away, and I'm closing the road up behind your building." Then another police officer arrives, looks at it, and then they call in an expert to take a look...

As I stand there chatting, I'm thinking to myself, could be kids, could be a weathered out flare.

The police explosives expert arrives. All clear, someone was probably just messing with a flare - but considering where it was found, it's slightly off. They check around a bit more, and don't find anything else. False alarm.

The office mentions it was their second call this morning. Last one was a sausage. (!) At least ours looked like something. Thanks for calling it in, etc...

What a sad world where we even need to be concerned.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Oddly Enough News Article | Reuters.com

Ok, this is a cool place to go for a first date - get to know the person without worrying about how you look or sound. Get to know them by listening to them. What a novel concept for people!

Paris, Zurich and Berlin each have a pitch black restaurant. That's right - pitch black. You walk in the door, and then are guided to your table, which is in a pitch black area. I'm not sure how you order ( !!! ) the article mentions that some patrons don't even know what exactly they had for dinner as they pay the bill after leaving the darkened restaurant. While it appears you can also ask for a variety of traditional French and Italian dishes, the surprise menu would be the most fun - figure out what you are eating, and make it part of the fun!

I know that the restaurant wasn't designed for first dates. It has a more serious side - it gives anyone an idea, and an opportunity to experience what life is like without sight. It also, of course, is a restaurant which caters to the blind.

Nonetheless, what a great way to actually get to know somebody... and not worry that you've got a piece of lettuce stuck between your front teeth! :-)

Richard



Friday, July 08, 2005

Ahenakew says he will appeal guilty verdict

I wrote about John Gibson earlier today. On an ironic note, I just saw that Daniel Ahenakew was convicted of promoting hatred today in Saskatchewan.

Read the news story here

Basically, Ahenakew is the former head of the Assembly of First Nations and a member of the Order of Canada (he was notified recently that he is being stripped of the honor, something which has only occured once before). Since the Order of Canada was created, only one other person has ever been stripped of the honour. (Allan Eagleson for Fraud).

In 2002 he started making speeches wherein he stated that he believed that Jews were the cause of the Second World War. His statements were wild, and filled with hatred. During the trial he was asked:

"So you still believe today, in 2005, that the Jewish people started the Second World War?" Crown prosecutor Brent Klause asked Ahenakew.

"Yes," he responded.

Ahenakew was charged under the Criminal Code with wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group.

The other person of note I can immediately recall being tried under this law was Ernst Zundel, who was eventually extradited to Germany.

Sadly, his punishment was merely a fine of $1000.00. He's now 71 years old, and hopefully being totally discredited and exposed will bring some sort of punishment as well. From what I understand, he has largely been ostracized by the First Nations community.

It's not a law which is often used in Canada. Freedom of speech is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights. But hatred is not a form of protected speech.

Tasteless -FOXNews.com - John Gibson

What a tasteless comment by John Gibson of Fox News:

"The bombings in London: This is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics (search) — let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while."

This kind of small minded, racist comment is not all that different from the attitudes which drive the terrorists. But of course, John Gibson is sanctimoniously quite different from the terrorists. He doesn't plant bombs. He's just voicing opinions which plant the seeds of hatred.

Anyhow, we live in great countries where the great philosophers and all the small minded, narrow minded, and misinformed people in the world have the opportunity to share their thoughts. I expect this kind of idiotic commentary from some uneducated teenager who suffers from a lack of empathy and too much testosterone. I'm constantly surprised that a major news outlet would allow this type of commentary to be published under their banner.

Here's the rest of his diatribe, that he still has a job at Fox is a surprise to me, although FoxNews does seem to operate with the philosophy of "any publicity is good publicity" hence, they seem to enjoy their fiar share of controversy.

Here's what he said ....

******

All day long people have been saying to me, "Wasn't it great they didn't pick Paris?" And I've been saying, "No, no, no."

Paris was exactly the right place to pick and the Olympic committee screwed up.

Why? Simple. It would have been a three-week period where we wouldn't have had to worry about terrorism.

First, the French think they are so good at dealing with the Arab world that they would have gone out and paid every terrorist off. And things would have been calm.

Or another way to look at it is the French are already up to their eyeballs in terrorists. The French hide them in miserable slums, out of sight of the rich people in Paris.

So it would have been a treat, actually, to watch the French dealing with the problem of their own homegrown Islamist terrorists living in France already.

What would the French have done about rounding up their own citizens?

Would they have afforded their own terrorists the rights they insist we give the detainees at Gitmo? Not a chance. They'd throw them in the clink, or ship them off to North Africa pronto.

Would they have blocked terrorists at the border with unreasonable search and seizure — precisely what they say we should not do? Of course they would. Anybody looking faintly Arab would have had the gendarmerie on them in a flash.

It would have been a delight to have Parisians worried about security instead of New Yorkers. It would have been exquisite to watch.

But, alas, they picked London. I like the Brits. I like London. I hate to see them going through all this garbage when it would have been just fine in Paris.

C'est la vie. Goes to show the Olympic committee doesn't recognize the perfect opportunity when it presents itself.

That's My (John Gibson's ) Word.
************

Thanks to the Loic Le Meur blog for bringing this to my attention.

German court convicts Sasser worm creator

A 21 month suspended sentence, about 1 year after unleashing the Sasser Virus on the world.

Proscecuters had been seeking a two year sentence.

I don't think that the term - 21 months - will shock anyone. That's 639 days. The surprising thing is he essentially got 639 days of good behaviour: For the next 639 days he must not be a bad boy! Wow, that's really strong discipline. I'm sure it will deter others from following his lead.

As to why he did it? Apparently, he's admitted everything in court - he wanted to be famous.

So he got his wish, a couple of times over. He's famous for creating the Sasser worm - I would say infamous, but some boneheaded firm will undoubtably hire him because they think he must be good. - He's also famous for getting exposed, tried, and getting away with it.

Too bad all of the companies which lost productivity to his quest are unable to sue for compensation. He might not be able to pay the costs, but having that precedent set might deter some other publicity seeker in the future.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Death toll rises to 38 in London terror blasts

I woke up this morning to the radio, and heard the news. I've been away from my desk most of the day, so unable to comment.

Unprovoked attacks of this sort are so incredibly hard to comprehend, and put in perspective. These are callous attacks on innocent civilians, designed to injure, maim and kill. They are also trying to force public opinion to get troops out of Iraq, and Afghanistan. But today we should not worry about that, we should think first and foremost of the individuals. Parents who lost their children, and children who have had the most important people ripped from their lives, and their innocent, wide eyed security forever shattered.

The most wonderful aspect of our society is we have the right to stand up and say what we think, and what we believe. We have the right to believe according to our personal values, and the guiding principles of our governments is to respect our freedom to think for ourselves.

I am fortunate to live in a country where freedom of speech, civil and personal rights, and the separation between Church and State is strongly valued and respected. Our freedoms bring with them rights and privileges we usually take for granted. On days like today we realize how valuable our rights are.

Richard


BBC News


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Yahoo adds another television exec to its ranks | CNET News.com

Convergence. It's still all about convergence.

Smart move from Yahoo! They have now picked up executives from each of the 4 major networks. Google may be the largest 'media company' but when you want online content you go to Yahoo!, or AOL. Both these companies are extremely well positioned for the next change, which will see more traditional content than ever streaming live online, just as Live 8 did on the weekend.

Richard


LIVE 8 - Did you Get It?

I think many of us have missed the point of the Live 8 event. Many of us focus too much on the immediate parts - the wonderful music, and the meetings this week. In case you missed the broadcast, here's the parts you need to see:

http://music.aol.com/artist/main.adp?tab=songvid&artistid=4348&albumid=0

1) 1985 Live Aid Video
2) Bob Geldof Introduces Birhan Woldu

They really run should be posted as one video - I'm not sure why they were not. That's the part my son watched. He watched it, and he got it. He's 6.

The music was great, but as great as it was, it should only be an excuse to reflect on what we really can do - not necessarily for Africa, but for anything we believe in. Throwing money at problems may not be the answer, but it can fix short term problems. Caring enough to do something meaningful about a problem will matter.

In case you're wondering, the music was great. I really enjoyed the performances by The Who, Robbie Williams, Dido, Barenaked Ladies, and REM. Although I don't get Michael Stipe's makeup.

Anyhow - I know my posts of late have not had much of anything to do with search engines, or search engine optimization. A little while ago, I found I wanted to post about more than just search engine related stuff. I also felt that the s.e. related works should really be housed on the Metamend site - it makes more sense there. So, we're actually setting up an internal blog on the Metamend site. So, between all that and being away on a short vacation and lots of business opportunities, I've really not kept up on the SEO posts. This blog will remain active, but will be more of a general commentary, sometimes philosophical and political in nature. The new blog, which I will point to, and post about search engine related issues much more consistently will allow me to segregate my thoughts into two distinct silos. Hopefully that will make both blogs more useful for any readers.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Man recites pi from memory to 83,431 places - World News - MSNBC.com

Ok. Why do this?

Is this akin to swimming the English Channel, or floating across the Pacific in a balloon?

I don't get it.

LIVE 8 - My Thoughts - Short Term & Long Term Effects

I didn't watch the Live 8 concerts on the weekend. I did use my Panasonic DVD-R to record the shows, so after a day of laboring in the garden, planting water pipes, cutting wood, etc, I tuned in and sped through lots of commercials to catch bits of the shows. The feed I got was from CTV (Canada), so mostly I saw the Canadian show, with a few cut outs to the UK, and one or two to the U.S. I won't get into the performances here, I enjoyed them, but that's not what it's all about.

I missed the Live Aid show in 1985, because I was on a summer University course in Poland. I'm Canadian, but had a great opportunity to spend almost 8 weeks travelling freely inside Poland late in the Communist regime. Twenty years later, I watched part of the broadcast with my 6 year old son, who alternated between watching when he heard a song he liked, and playing on the Lego.com site.

SO WHAT'S THE POINT ???

At one point Bob Geldof came out, just prior to Madonna's set, and introduced one of the 'kids' that the original event had helped rescue. My son got it. That's the point. He saw the images of the children with distended stomaches and their living conditions, and he understood how lucky we all are. Many people around the world saw these same images, and for many, it may have been the first time they ever did see them. Hopefully, some of them 'got it' too.

The Live 8 shows won't likely get the G8 to actually raise aid spending to 0.7%. Not next week. The leaders will pay lip service to it with intangible commitments. Countries like Canada will re-announce debt forgivements. These forgivements are meaningful. But that's not the massive change that the artists who participated will really get. The change is in our attitudes, and in our realization that we can all make a difference, somehow.

The Change will come over the next 25 years. People like me, who are in their thirties today were inspired in some way by what happened in the mid 1980's. We know that there are corrupt governments in many of the poorest of countries, that these are not trustworthy, and will not be entirely helpful. But we know there is a way to have an impact. We also know that the world has changed immeasureably since 1985. Thanks in large part to the Internet, and the tools that it brings to all of us.

It's our generation - the entrepreneurs and business leaders under 40 today whose attitudes have been shaped in some immeasureable way by Live Aid, and empowered by the Internet explosion. We are arguably the first generation in history which not only can appreciate the problems that exist, but can collectively collaborate to improve the world, in diverse and often immeasurable ways.

The Internet is the world's greatest educational tool. It is the greatest education tool the world has ever seen. Today, knowledge can be widely, and immediately shared. Like disease, it does not respect physical borders, nor does it move at a predictable speed. It can be stifled and surpressed, but it cannot be eradicated.

The Change that the Live 8 event brings is in our attitudes - that something can be done, the Internet helps us collectively acheive things on a scale which was heretofor impossible.

Searching for knowledge is the business we all are in, or are wittingly or unwittingly in the business of accelerating.

Someone asked me a couple of months ago what drives our business. What's really our goal. Yes, as heretical as it sounds to many, there is more to building a great business than making money. The money is very nice. It pays for our livelyhood. It helps us attain the creature comforts we desire. But there is more.

We do quite a few charity projects each year - we did them when we couldn't afford to do so, and do more now that we are starting to be able to afford to. Pro bono work, charity, civic minded projects, community support, whatever you want to call it - we do some each year. We don't publicize it - this might be the first time I'm writing about it at all. It's not about us. We can't take on every project we come across. But we do what we can.

Because I am passionate about helping, and getting others involved, I have been telling a few people one story in particular recently. A lot of the projects we take on have to do with children. We believe that if we can get it right with children, we will help everyone in the long term. One project we worked on was a summer camp for deaf children. The camp had been around for a while, but was in risk of closing. Their enrolment was too low for their to justify their continued funding from their supporters. It wasn't that there were not sufficient numbers of deaf children to service in the area, it's that they were not reaching them. One of the projects I work through, www.fcip.ca, took this one on. FCIP built them a new site, and we promoted it. Today, they are oversubscribed, and having to expand their programs. Many of the children they now reach live in communities where they are the only deaf person. Imagine for a moment spending your whole life being completely unique, and detached from those around you. People outside your own close circle do not know how to communicate with you. Everyday you face struggles that none of your peers have to handle. Then, for two weeks in a summer, you get to travel to a place where everyone is just like you! Imagine the joy for someone who never met anyone else 'just like me' in their life?

We do it because we hope that it helps the greater good, and its something we can immediately effect. It helps people. As an aside, FCIP is just completing our first project for an educational program in Mozambique. We want to help people all over the world, but we need help to do it. We need more web design firms to agree to do even 1 web site a year. It's been hard finding any which are even willing to do that! But we know they are out there. This year we had about 100 applications. We could only take on 6 projects. (build a website for a charitable organization which needs help, and promote it so that it reaches its stakeholders). If your firm wants to contribute, please let me know.

What's the vision behind our company? We build search engine optimization software to make the information you NEED easier and faster to reach. WHY? Our vision is to make available a fully automated optimization service which anyone can afford, and everyone uses. Our vision is that a fully optimized Internet means you can find the documents and information relevant to your query immediately. Our vision is that relevant information should be immediately available, which means knowledge can be immediately shared - this brings about ever increasing gains and advancements for people around the world. It also means we have helped the greater good, and will leave the world a better place than the one we entered.

Perhaps it sounds a bit simplistic, but it's not that bad. We already proven we can automated 80% of the SEO functions, without getting into any 'black hat' techniques. We've also proven that it works. We have successful clients in 60+ countries which are being found every day based on relevance to prove it. These include quite a few NFP and NGO organizations which are going the last mile to make a difference. We are merely a cog in the wheel that helps them reach their constituency. But it makes a difference.

Until now, that last 20% was the challenge. We're awfully close to bridging 10% of that gap. Can we get the last 10% after that? Yes, I believe we can, and will.

We are making a difference today. We will make a larger difference tomorrow.

Richard

Monday, June 20, 2005

August 2009: How Google beat Amazon and Ebay to the Semantic Web (Ftrain.com)

Thanks to John Battelle's Searchblog, I saw a link to this article by Paul Ford, published in late July 2002, so almost exactly 3 years ago. Great article in its foresight.

Google Said to Plan Rival to PayPal, create Google Wallet

Interesting move, if true. This story first appeared in the New York Times.

This is just the sort of move Google needs to make to diversify its revenue streams. As my last post suggested commented, a number of people are concerned about justifying Google's ~$300.00 / share price.

The challenge is, and has been that Google's been adding more and more to the search experience, but little to divesifty their revenue stream. This could be the first major step in that direction, and a fast one.

The article comments that, (as we already know), Google and its Froogle shopping service are significant sources of customers for Internet stores.

The creation of a "Google Wallet" would help Google expand its reach by not just helping introduce consumers to the products they are searching for, but also to help they conclude the transaction, by facilitating the payment.

The article speaks of this move not just as if it's a rumor, but rather that it is going to happen, just the timelines and partners are unknown.

So where could this logically lead? PayPal accounted for ~6.0 Billion payment settlements in the first quarter of the year, and over $240 Million in Net Revenue to Ebay. Google could cut significantly into this stream. So it's a good way to expand the overall revenue streams.

But longer term, is this just a step? Could the longer term strategy include hosting the stores themselves, much like Yahoo stores, and making a little bit off each transaction? Could Google be looking at companies like ING and Emigrant Direct, and be considering that online banking is a logical move? It's easy to speculate, but transaction based revenue models certainly are in line with Google's business model, and a logical course for them to keep following.



ADDED at 7:30 a.m.

I just realized - if Google gets into this business, I have even more spam to look forward to!!! While writing the earlier note, I got 3 different invites to 'update my paypal password'; or 'unlock your paypal account' Woohoo, I can't wait!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Internet Stock Blog: Hussman: Google worth less than $40 per share (GOOG)

Saw a note about this on Greg Sterling's blog. We were to chat this afternoon about a new technology we've developed, but I had to bail.

There's tons of speculation about 'is Google really worth $300.00 / share?' Well, it's worth whatever someone will pay for it, and right now that's ~$300.00 / share.

Can they sustain that value long term? I don't know, my crystal ball is cracked, and my ouija board burst into flames last time I used it.

My bet is that the people at Google will take a page out of MS's pagebook, and buy up lots of good technology which will help them expand their offerings, and continue to grow their revenues. Whether that means they will manage to keep their stock price up or not is a different question.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Post Money Value: Sometimes its hard to be an American

Rick Segal is a good friend of a friend and close advisor of mine, Matthew Dunn, who now runs Predixis - the company Rick was on the way to visit. I've been reading his blog on and off for a while. It's always interesting, and well written.

Today's comment is particularly strong. Sometimes a little perspective helps us all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

blinkx -iFilm deal

Hi,

I just saw a note about the Blinx / iFilm deal. I've never really thought too much about how Blinx operates in video search. One of my favourite sayings when I'm speaking to SEO is "a picture is worth a thousand words to you and I, but zero to a search engine" - so how does Blinx do what they do?

I'll hypothesize for 2 minutes, and suggest that video feeds that carry subtitles are easy to index. There's text there from the start.

Blinx doesn't actually tell you how they do it, but you can read up a bit about their features on this blinkx page, and in their FAQ.

Richard

Monday, June 13, 2005

Microsoft blocking words on China's Web? | CNET News.com

Just saw this note come through from the weekend: If you're in China, use MSN search, and enter in any of the words: "deomstration", "democracy", "democratic", etc... you get an error message which says "This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech from this item." Therefore it blocks your ablility to search for information, or knowledge, using these terms.

According to CNET, Microsoft has issued a statement, which states that "MSN abides by the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates." Fair enough - they are not saying they like, or agree with the law, but rather that they will respect it. It's how we should all operate in life - by respecting each other's laws and beliefs.

A truism which I follow is from Voltaire's writings. I quote, very roughly, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will die fighting for your right to say it." Freedom of speech is a key fundamental in society's ability to live, prosper and grow. Denying the Chinese people this right is only stunting their overall growth as a society, and their country's ability to reach its full potential. However, it's also what will keep the existing administration in power, and we all have seen even democratically elected government go to excessive lengths to retain power.

Whenever I read or hear about the Chinese government's attempts to stifle the free exchange of knowledge within their borders, I think of Plato's Republic, and the Allegory of the Cave. If you haven't read it, go get a copy, please read Book VII of the Republic, and enjoy - it's one of the most powerful stories ever put to text. Does the Chinese government not think that somehow, someday, their people will emerge from "the cave"?

The Internet is the greatest education tool the world has ever seen. Knowledge will get into China, and be widely shared, this just will slow it down a little. Like disease, it does not respect physical borders, nor does it move at a predictable speed. It can be stifled and surpressed, but it cannot be eradicated.

Searching for knowledge is the business we all are in, or are wittingly or unwittingly in the business of accelerating. The amount of information that I was exposed to as a child was breathtaking for my parents in comparison to their own childhood. I can't even begin to compare what I experienced with all which our children now have the opportunity to learn and experience, thanks to the Internet, and search engine's ability to deliver answers to almost any question we pose to them.

Search is the most basic of human desires. I believe that it truly is the 'oldest profession' - after all, curiousity is a reflection of the search for knowledge, isn't it?

I wonder how this Chinese policy can be viewed in relation to their promises and commitments re: Beijing 2008? Do you think that a number of these policies will be quietly lifted before and during the Games?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Not an SEO post -

Ok, this has nothing to do with SEO. But it's very funny. Readers in Canada will get it.

Here's the scoop. Frank Stronach is a long time Liberal (Canadian political party), he's the head of Magna, which supplies auto parts into almost every vehicle manufactured world wide, and has earned him well over a Billion dollars. His daughter Belinda became CEO in her mid 30's and then 2 years ago decided to get into politics. Seeing an opportunity, she ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party, and lost. She hasn't got along well with various other party officials, except the Deputy Leader, Peter MacKasy, who became her boyfriend sometime in 2004.

About 2 weeks ago, Belinda Stronach crossed the floor, and joined both the Liberal Party, and the cabinet.


Anyhow, the more I listen to this, the funnier it becomes....

Richard

The Kelsey Group - Pay for Call Success

Interesting short note by Greg Sterling. "(...) in the article the interviewee sees pay-per-call as something of an “antidote” to click fraud." I had never really thought of pay per call that way. It's true, but I doubt it was thought up that way in the first plce.

Pay per Click is wrought with fraud. The search engines all know it. Yahoo, Kanoodle and Microsoft have all commented frequently on it, and are all quite vocal about finding ways to eliminate it, or at least to minimize it's impact on advertisers. Google faces the larger challenge, as revenue from pay per click advertising is ~97% of its total revenues. Obviously, Microsoft and Yahoo both have a vested interest in making this an issue. Yahoo is less dependent on PPC than Google. Somewhat. But they know that the damage to Google will be greater than to themselves if PPC fraud is ever truly controlled. Microsoft on the other hand wouldn't really notice if PPC went away tomorrow. But they would notice a lot of competitors gone.

If I were MS, I would be looking at tools to reign in click fraud. They would look like hero's to the business community, and possibly wipe out their biggest online competitor in one feel swoop.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

ACLU to challenge Utah porn-blocking law

What absolute nonsense. The search related question here is that among others targeted by the law are any companies which effectively organize electronic data for profit:

This bill addresses pornographic materials and material harmful to minors. This bill:

  • requires the Division of Consumer Protection to make public service announcements;
  • requires the attorney general to establish and maintain a database, called the adult content registry, of certain Internet sites containing material harmful to minors;

(...) and later in the document;

  • Upon request by a consumer, a service provider shall filter content to prevent the transmission of material harmful to minors to the consumer.
  • (b) A service provider complies with Subsection (1)(a) if it uses a generally accepted and
    commercially reasonable method of filtering.

(to read the whole transcript of the Bill, please glick on the link to "law" above)

So any search engine which automatically crawls the web is required to prevent minors from seeing objectionable content.

NetCoalition, a lobby group whose members include Google, Yahoo and others, have protested, arguing that the legislation could affect search engines, email providers and Web hosting companies.

They are right. But here's two more points;

  1. To loosely quote a Supreme Court Justice Stewart, whose first name now escapes me, and Sen. Goldwater on the subject of pornography: "I don't know how to define it, but I know what it is when I see it." And;
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words to you and me, but zero to a search engine ( I've been using this since 1998 / 9 - I doubt I'm the first one to have said it!!!!)

Even if search engines and email providers wanted to censor all adult material automatically, they could not. They already can put certain sites on 'adult lists', and you need to turn the search filters off to find that data, but all you need to do is say "I'm not a minor" by clicking a button. What a powerful tool. Imagine if liquor stores used similar filters, "Sure I'm 18 / 19 / 21" (depending on your jurisdiction), says the acne faced kid with a cracking voice and peach fuzz lip...

This Bill is unworkable. If it were upheld, and I were running a search engine, I would consider not allowing access to my engine to residents in that territory. It's simply an untenable economic expense; the cost of enforcing such a Bill would be untenable. The only search providers who could meet these terms correctly would be organizations like DMOZ, and even then, they would have to re-review sites on an almost daily basis, to ensure continued compliance. After all, what spammer would not post a legitimate site today, and then morph the content into porn the day after the site passed inspection?

Lastly, I always love statements like "accepted and commercially reasonable method of filtering." They mean nothing. It's a loophole so large the whole State could walk through it. "Commercially reasonable" - I can see it now. Google gets fined, and challenges the fine in court. They send in their lawyer who simply states "Your honor, to comply with this Bill would require the hiring of 100,000 new staff for a period of 6 months at a total cost of $15,000,000,000, simply to review the existing data already in our index. This staff would be required to re-review such content monthly thereafter,....." What would compliance do to Google's valuation?

I believe a few other States have already tried this type of nonsense, and the law has been thrown out.

I've never liked to see government in the bedrooms of the people. Sad, truly sad.

$80 Billion ?

It seems that almost every day I hear someone talk up the merits of Google. Often the individual is commenting on the price of the stock, and how it just has to go higher, because it's worth every penny. I like Google. But I didn't buy their shares at the opening, at $100, at $200, and certainly not now.

Here's one reason. Today Google has a market cap of approximately US$80 billion, give or take $1B ( !!! ). In comparison, AOL Time Warner, which had 14x the revenue last year has a market cap of $80B. These are both media companies. AOL-TW has a much larger reach between its online and offline business, and should therefore have a much larger historical base of advertisers to work off of. What justifies the fact that both firms have almost identical market caps? Let's not forget, AOL is a large distributor of Google's search results, and advertising. Is AOL TW seriously undervalued, or Google overpriced? Or a combination?

Perhaps Google's stock price is fair? In hindsight, I wish I had bought shares AND sold them - I'd have made some easy money. The market is always right, after all. But how much of its stock price is actually the result of over-eager daytraders who are buying into the myth?

Anyhow, like everyone else in this industry, I'll keep watching their stock, and hoping it doesn't blow up in all our faces one day. The industry, and the market, don't need it to become the new dot-bomb. There is no reason it should, but market perceptions may be hard to manage if / when the stock price gap over earnings starts to slide back to more traditional values.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Syndicated Ads Shown Through Ill-Gotten Third-Party Toolbars

Interesting article yet again by Ben Edelman.

In it he questions Google's 'Do no evil" policy - and asks how it can be consistent with Google paying out hundreds of millions of dollars annually to companies which spam the Internet? Google's principles clearly set out high standards, and are designed to discourage both Google, and its partners from doing business, directly or indirectly, with companies that violate them.

Directly, he is attacking Ask Jeeve's 'MySearch' toolbar, which has 'mysteriously' been installed on millions of computers recently - and in many cases surreptitiously - without users consent. My son managed to do it to his computer - he's just turned 6, and on Friday he wanted to show me something new on Lego's site. I noticed the new toolbar, and thought it particularly odd, since he doesn't have administrator privileges, and should not have been able to install it. He also usually uses Firefox, so I'm really not sure at all how it arrived! I removed it immediately, and started hunting down where it came from. I was starting to write something on the weekend, but then this article came out this morning, and since it was far more comprehensive than what I had, I decided to blog it instead.

So why is Jeeves doing this? Well, they're not the most popular search engine out there, and they need to find ways to get in front of users. I actually like the results that Teoma delivers. Teoma.com is an Ask Jeeves subsidiary. They just don't have the distribution that Google, Yahoo and MSN have. So they are running far behind the leaders, in spite of having a product which rivals or surpasses some of the others. But since people don't use the engine, they don't want the toolbar. It's quite a conundrum for Ask Jeeves. They have a high quality product that no one uses. They need to get it better distributed, because if enough people start using it, they will get better traction, earn more from advertising, and be able to eat away at the leaders' market share.

Spamming us all however, is not the wisest way to go. It's much more likely to turn more people away than it is to convert them to happy users.

Anyhow, please read Ben Edelman's blog. It's well written, and focused on spyware, spam, etc... It's a good resource to follow.


Richard

Friday, June 03, 2005

Google tests tool to aid Web indexing - Sitemaps

Google launched a free tool called Sitemaps in Beta yesterday. Simply put, it helps web site operators create a sitemap for their site. It's probably quite simple code. We built such a tool back in 2000 as part of our SEO software tool.

What I did like is that Google confirmed that Site Maps are important. Many SEO's and SEM's have long argues that they have no value, or are only useful in poorly designed sites. We've always found that to be untrue. We build sitemaps for every client we have, just as a safety measure to ensure ALL content is properly reviewed.

Google's tool does not affect rankings. No sitemap does. It simply ensures that all the content is indexed. Our client sites tend to get all their relevant content in the engines. Sitemaps help ensure this. It's a smart move on the part of Google - It helps them ensure that they get into every nook and cranny within a site, and helps them get around some of the issues they have with sites that have Flash or dynamic navigation.

On that note, I bet we'll see many webmasters link to the SiteMap using a dynamic link...



Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Google shares surge to new highs after stock report - Yahoo! News

So what do you think? Will Google's shares hit $350.00 by the end of June?

Is it worth it? That's the big question. I have no idea. I don't own any Google stock.


Richard



Monday, May 30, 2005

Yahoo! Mindset

A really cool BETA tool from Yahoo labs. It allows you to run a search, and then resort your results based on whether you expect a commercial (you're buying a product or service), or informational (you're doing research), result.

What's really interesting is that it gives you a chance to gather some perspective on how your site is viewed. Do Yahoo! (and likely other search engines), 'see' your web site correctly? Do they think your site is informational in nature when you're really trying to sell a product or a service?

For example, or main site; www.metamend.com was viewed as informational, whereas our site for the hospitality industry - hotels.metamend.com was seen as being heavily oriented towards selling. I would say this is a correct assumption; objectively.

Our main site metamend.com is there to sell SEO services. But it's also used to inform people about the search engines, and optimization in general. We've collected and posted so much information over the years, that I can understand why an algorithm would place it has heavily favouring the "informational site" side.

Then I tried something different. I did the equivalent of 'google myself' using Mindset, and got interesting results. This blog was #3 overall. I guess it's relevant. :-) Number 1 was ISEDB That too was relevant. The remainder were articles I had written over the years. I moved the slider around, and the results changed, although it mostly seemed to be based on the site the article was posted to - so the same article might be more valuable on an informational site than on a service based site. I find that to be interesting in and of itself. Pages are not weighted within the site, the over site score is counted. This is a BETA, but this feature does not seem as detailed as PageRank, which varies from area to area within a site.

I then happened to spot a particular article in the results which I had written and published in October 2003. In it I had written:

"Search engines need to keep an eye to new technologies and innovative techniques to improve the quality of their search results. Their business model is based on providing highly relevant results to a query quickly and efficiently. If they deliver inaccurate results too often, searchers will go elsewhere to find a more reliable information resource. The proper and carefully balanced application of usage data, such as that collected by Alexa, combined with a comprehensive ranking algorithm could be employed to improve the quality of search results for web searchers.

Such a ranking formula would certainly cause some waves within the search engine community and with good reason. It would turn existing search engine results on their head by demonstrating that search results need not be passive. Public feedback to previous search results could be factored into improving future search results."

I'm no genius, or psychic. I can't remember Oct 2003 that well, but I'm sure that a lot of people wrote similar comments before and after my article was published. The argument was one that I'm sure many people at the time agreed with, and wanted to see happen. I wrote that article in particular about ways you could use Alexa data to model behaviour, and automatically start filtering results based on prior tendencies.

This route followed by Yahoo! is much on the same lines, except that it doesn't assume they your search tendencies are always relevant - it asks you to decide if you want information or to make a purchase. I like it.

If nothing else, this new tool gives some insight into the logic that Yahoo uses today, and opens new paths for optimization strategies.



Richard

Why smart companies don't use corporate weblogs :: AO

I saw an article on Robert Scoble's blog earlier that led me to this bit of nonsense. It's an article from a fellow trying to sell us on 'blogworking' since "smart companies don't use corporate weblogs" and "Public weblogs have very low accountability, and they return no information or insight back to the author about their audience." Lastly, the author - Jesse Taylor, claims that "smart companies will continue to avoid traditional weblog publishing, while at the same time, smart companies will to continue to see the financial and customer relations incentives offered by true blogworking."

His premise really seems to be that blogs are not interactive enough, and don't allow for enough 'conversation' Ok, perhaps that is somewhat true. But you'll have a very hard time convincing me entirely of this. First off: I get a few, and very few comments on my blog -- I started it more a search engine marketing experiment - heck I've never even moved it into our site, but I think I will soon -- but most of the comments I do get are emailed directly to me, and not through the site. I've had interesting conversations with individuals based on comments or articles I've posted. I've gotten all sorts of feedback, and I've learned. No one else participated in that conversation, but the blog is not designed for that purpose! If I wanted a discussion, I'd open a discussion board. That's where Jesse Taylor's comments are more applicable. Social blogworking can be the new discussion board / forum format. It makes sense there.

I know lots of companies that use blogs, and use them well. The people who get the feedback are the authors who had the original thought. They should be the ones getting the feedback. They don't want someone else responding to a question about their article, becuase the correct thought is likely not in that person's head. If I had one of our staff answer comments to my blog, or to a presentation I did, etc... they would come to me and ask me "so what did you mean here, when you said XYZ?" Who would benefit there? No one.

Social Blogworking is real. It's smart. It has it's place. Just like blogs.

here's the original article.


Richard


PR dead update

Ok, just back from my last outside meeting of the day - and lunch! - looks like PR is back. I'm still seeing some odd search results, so that must be unrelated.

Richard

Google Toolbar PR Meter Gray Across The Web

Since late last week, Google's toolbar has been grey.

It would be a good thing for the Internet to leave it that way. Here's two quick observations why, but I'll probably write a longer piece later:

1) Fight spam: It will hopefully cut down on the number of sites which claim high PR page, and just waste everyone's time, including Google's. How many 100's of link spam less would I like to see each day? hmmmmmmm???

2) Stop people from trading links basing on their speculation of which site is an authority site, and trying to link to and from it. Get people concentrating on relevant links. Teoma's system of Subject Specificity in links is stronger anyhow. Links all count for something, but the right links get you into the right neighborhood. Now Teoma's system isn't foolproof. Metamend ranks #1 in Teoma (at least from whereI'm searching) for "web site optimization", but not in the top 200 for "search engine optimization", or "seo service" Yet, we're an SEO service, a search engine optimization company, and a web site optimization service. Just an "ism" I guess. No system is foolproof.

I did see a note somewhere that PageRank (PR) is available in the Google Directory - I'm flying around, and can't verify that data. I also saw a note that Google's started a major index rebuild - I would say this is likely as I've ssen lots of movement in the last few days. Could be that It'll be updated and live once the update is done - no more groaning from people who wonder why they have a PR 7, and rank below PR 3's.

More later....

Richard

Thursday, May 26, 2005

AIMS: Vancouver Meeting

So I went to AIMS Canada's first event in many years in Vancouver last night. Dave Forde, who's the GM of AIMS had asked me to come to the event when I was in Toronto at SES a couple of weeks ago. I lined up a few meetings to coincide with the event, and made the short trip over. It was nice

I met lots of interesting people - which is always the best part of my day - including a few who I've known about for a while, but never happened to meet properly.

Anyhow, there was maybe 40 people there, so not a huge attendance. But I would say that the people there were of high quality, and well connected in the local scene. Many seemed to have the attitude - I'll show and check this out for next time.

One person commented on the low turnout. Which actually brings me to the point of this post.

About 18-20 years ago I was very politically involved. I was attending a French college called Jean-de-Brebeuf in Montreal, and I organized a number of individuals to come through the school to speak. One such individual was a very nice man, who I thought would be a big draw. After all, I believed he was going to be Prime Minister of Canada one day, and I was sure everyone would be interested to hear him speak. There were about 1000 students in this college / CEGEP.

A couple of weeks before the event, I met with this man at his office, and he asked me what sort of turnout I expected. I informed him that the room held about 80 people, and I hoped to have a majority of seats filled. He smiled slowly, and told me he looked forward to it.

The day came, and I was nervous - a number of people promised to come, and did. Some only came for 10 minutes, and left, but about 25-35 people were there constantly. Another 20 people probably flowed through. I felt let down. I had not delivered, and I was extremely disappointed.

The man though was not. He was thrilled. Then he told me a story. When he was a couple of years older than I was at the time, he was at University of Toronto. There was a rising star in Quebec politics called Rene Levesque, (If you don't know who he is, look it up!), whom he invited to speak at the U of T.

He was very excited about his star speaker, separatism in Quebec was just a nascent political force, and its leader was coming to speak at U of T. He was sure the turnout would be huge, and booked the largest available hall for the event. The day came, and he proudly escorted Levesque into the room, and found 3 people in a hall which could accommodate almost 1000. He was shattered. But Levesque loved it - he got to have a good conversation with three very interested, highly educated people who disagreed with his perspective rationally. He benefited from the meeting.

Hearing this story made me smile, and feel much better. It also explained why this individual had smiled when I gave him the expected numbers. About 18 years later, he became Prime Minister of Canada, before that he was Finance Minister in his opponent's government, a government which turned huge deficits into soaring surpluses. He did a great job as Finance Minister.

I have not seen or spoken to him since 1990 - 1991. But when people ask me for my opinion of him, I always say, "Paul Martin is an extremely nice man. Of all the political leaders I have met, I believe that he is possibly the nicest on a personal level."


Richard

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BitTorrent Creator Launches Search Engine

I'm not sure how many people actually use BitTorrent. I'm sure tons of people did last week to get a copy of the new Star Wars movie prior to its release.

One of the big challenges, from what I understand, is finding all the copies of files out there so that you are not stuck having the program run for hours at a time to download files.

Of course, file sharing of copyrighted material is not entirely legal. A number of web sites which host such material have been forced to shut down.

This new service, available at the BitTorrent site, has indexed over 60,000 files as of launch on Monday. I can imagine that the engine makes it easier for people to find the right files - but also for publishers to track down sites they want to shut down.

We'll see how this plays out.

Richard


Publishers protest Google library project

You just knew this was going to happen....

A little while ago, Google announced plans with certain Universities to scan millions of library books into it search engine - thus making the sharing of knowledge easier, and allowing it to reach a much wider audience. From a philanthropic standpoint - this is a good thing.

Anyhow, Google now is being challenged by 125 not for profit publishers who claim that the plan involves systematic copyright infringement on a massive scale. Two of the publishers claim to have formally asked Google to withhold their publications from the scanners, but that Google has not complied with the request.

I understand why authors and publishers would not like this. After all, if you only need to publish one copy of the book, then every book would have zero ROI. It's a business after all.

Google, and the libraries want to help information get shared. A lot of University libraries could benefit from this sharing of information. I remember when I was at McGill; many texts were not available in the various libraries. When all you needed from an entire book about certain case laws, all you really wanted was a copy of the ruling - your job was to offer your own perspective. Many times, it was very difficult to find the appropriate rulings, and you were forced to find other texts which referenced the original. McGill is / was a well to do school, but it did not have EVERY document it needed in its library. This program is designed to resolve that issue, so that every student can access the information he or she needs to perform his or her studies, and to succeed. It's knid of like Plato's Allegory of the Cave, and the students can just barely see the light. The program helps them climb out from the cave.

So, I understand both sides of the issue - somehow, authors and publishers need to be compensated for their costs in getting the books out there.

Perhaps a solution is for Google and the Universities to only scan in books that are more than 25 years old? This would still be invaluable to researchers and students.



Richard


Voyager 1 reached the solar system's frontier

Not search engine related, but very cool. Really it is totally search related, but on a different plane.

Voyager 1 has reached the edge of the solar system and is into the Heliosheath.

Interestingly, Voyager 1 was launched sixteen days after Voyager 2. ( September 5, 1977 (Voyager 1), August 20, 1977 (Voyager 2)).

They are last two spacecraft of NASA's Mariner series, and the first to be sent to explore the outer solar system. Voyagers 1 and 2 were to programmed to perform studies of Jupiter and Saturn, their moons.

Voyager 1's is on a faster trajectory, allowing it to arrive at Jupiter in March of 1979, whereas Voyager 2 arrived about four months later in July 1979. I don't have any clue why that is - perhaps one studied the asteroid belt on the way there?? After both spacecraft studied Jupiter and Neptuen, Voyager 2 was sent on to Uranus (January 1986) and Neptune (August 1989).

Anyhow - they now go off into the heliosphere - headed in different directions to study what is beyond the solar system.

Richard

Monday, May 23, 2005

Link Request Software

Got to love this link request!!! It's amazing when people can't take 5 minutes to read the simplest instructions!. I took the time to remove the .us and replace it with "dot us" throughout - figured they were so ridiculous, I wouldn't even send them traffic from this blog - if anyone actually reads it!

I especially like the note at the bottom - they couldn't even bother removing the instructions themselves.

"I have provided this sample email only for your reference. I
STRONGLY recommend that you modify the above email significantly
before sending it your link partners - if too many LinkExplore
users start sending the same emails, the effectiveness of each
email will diminish significantly. Also, if too many LinkExplore
users start sending the same emails, and if you send a similar
email, you might be accused of email spamming. "


Anyhow, this spam gave me a good smile!! I almost never read them, so I'm not sure what caused me to stop and read this one....

Richard


Here's the email!

Hi,


I looked at your website - http://www.metamend.com - and I really
liked the [[Enter something that you like about the link
partner's site]].


I own a site that provides [[Enter topic of your site]] -
http://www.winstart dot us. Since your site provides [[Enter Topic of
link partner's site]], our sites are related to but are not
competitive with each other. So, I would like to propose a link
exchange partnership with your site.


My site gets a lot of traffic every day, so a link from my site
to your site will bring in a decent amount of traffic to your
site.


Also, as you probably already know, it will improve the link
popularity and the search engine ranking of your site.


I have already added a link to your site from my site at
http://www.winstart dot us/http://partner.winstart dot us/


I have used the following Title and Description for your site:


Title: Metamend marketing and promotion
Description: World leading search engine optimization firm,
provinding expert web site optimization and marketing services.
Grow your company with an effective SEO service.


I would really appreciate it if you could add a link to my site
in return.


Please use the following information for the link:


Title: Domain name registration, Web Site Hosting, Email Services
Description: WinStart
International Domain and Hosting
URL: http://www.winstart dot us


Here's the HTML source code that you can copy and paste in your
site:
- LINK - Domain name registration, Web Site Hosting, Email Services, WinStart
International Domain and Hosting


If you link back to me, I will be happy to put your website at
the top of my links page (along with other sites that link back
to me).


If you want me to make any changes to the Title or Description of
your link in my site, or if you have any questions about my
proposal, please feel free to send me an email or call me at
[[Enter Your Phone Number]]. Or, if you want, I can give you a
call as well.


I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Best Regards,
Pera Tudt
http://www.winstart dot us


I have provided this sample email only for your reference. I
STRONGLY recommend that you modify the above email significantly
before sending it your link partners - if too many LinkExplore
users start sending the same emails, the effectiveness of each
email will diminish significantly. Also, if too many LinkExplore
users start sending the same emails, and if you send a similar
email, you might be accused of email spamming.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Google -personalization - becoming a portal?

So every time you talk to a Google representative they state "We're different from Yahoo and MSN in that we're not a portal. We're all about getting you OFF our web site."

Now with personalization, it's hard not to call the new Google with personalization a portal. Yes, they are still trying to get you off their site, but when you go to Google and enter the query "definition of a portal" this is the number 1 result:

"Definitions of portal on the Web:

  1. portal site: a site that the owner positions as an entrance to other sites on the internet; "a portal typically has search engines and free email and chat rooms etc.
  2. A portal is a Web-based application that provides personalization, single sign-on, and content aggregation from different sources and hosts the presentation layer of information systems.
    www.questionmark.com/uk/glossary.htm
  3. A term, generally synonymous with gateway, for a World Wide Web site that is a major starting site for users when they get connected to the web or that users tend to visit as an anchor site, linking to many other sites. Typical services offered by portal sites include a directory of Web sites, the ability to search for information, news, weather information, e-mail, stock quotes, phone and map information, and sometimes a community forum. Excite is among the first portals to offer users the ability to personalize that web site according to individual interests. Other examples of portals
    envision.ca/templates/blank.asp
  4. A Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as email, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience. www.lazworld.com/glossary.htm"


hmmmm... the new google smells like a portal to me.


To do your own customization (which makes Google look very much like a portal), go to www.google.com/ig


Richard

Tracking...

Hi,

Came across this and thought I would put it on, and see how many noticed, and commented.

To that end, I have just turned comments on. Don't know if anyone ever will, but thought I would check and see :-)



Thursday, May 19, 2005

Google CEO defends privacy policies & discusses a Google Browser

Eric Schmidt, Googles CEO, quite rightly defended Google's privacy policies today. If information is in the public domain, I would expect every search engine to go out, find it, and catalogue it. If you don't want it out there, don't publish it!

For those of you who want it both ways, Google, Yahoo!, MSN and others may respect your robots.txt file and tags, but many search engines won't, and when that information is republished somewhere, Google and the others will find it, and catalogue it.

My home phone is unlisted. Not because I wanted it that way, but because I switched to Vonage. (it works fine for me, and I now have 2 Vonage lines at work). so far, their numbers in Canada have not been distributed. So, I'm not in the phone book. This means I'm also not in the online directories, and thus my home phone number is not public. My old one probably is, (almost certainly is), so maybe I'll get more spam mail, but who cares, it just goes in the recycling bin.

Google's policy of responding to requests for privacy by removing information when properly asked is reasonable, and responsible. It should be emulated, not pilloried.

I found the second part of the article more interesting, when the question of hiring Firefox engineers came up. Does Google want it's own browser? Mr. Schmidt indicated that their interests lay in ensuring their products work well with all browsers. While this is reasonable - heck ever company's web designer should be ensuring their site loads with the last few generations of every major browser out there - IE 3+, NN 4+, Konqueror, Firefox, Opera, etc... But, I believe there is something more to it. You don't need the best Firefox engineers in the world to do that. You don't even need them to build web pages which take advantage of Firefox's features.

Perhaps Google is watching AOL develop Netscape Navigator 9 (yes I know that 8 is about to be released, but 9 is also on the way)? Perhaps they recognize that the browser wars are back, and they want to be ready. Let's face it Firefox has 6-8% market share now. You know AOL is going to make a push with their product. They want to be the player they once were again?


Richard


For more, please follow this link to the full CNET ARTICLE.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The World According to Steve Ballmer

Interesting comments from Steve Ballmer. While MS was 'a one trick pony' for years (DOS), eventually, they saw other opportunities, and used their strategic advantages to conquer the desktop. Why would Google not be able to follow the same path? Would they want to though?

I am concerned that so much of what Google has been doing, and buying, is search related, and that they have not significantly diversified. But you know what? It doesn't really matter: search will never cease to grow. It's what we as humans have done from day one. Our curiousity and desire to search for anything new is what has driven our civilization to grow. Mostly for the better.

The argument then, (if Google should be criticized for not diversifying), is really absurb when you compare it against another statement Mr. Ballmer makes: "We'll see as much innovation in tech over the next five years as we saw in the past decade." Perhaps Ballmer means that Google, like Oracle will be a one trick pony. If they are, their investors will still be happy.

It must be hard to be Microsoft. No, there really is no sarcasm in this note. It must be hard. They HAVE to compete in almost every area of the Internet and Software. Unlike almost every one of their competitors, they have products in almost every field. Their competitors only need to concentrate on one or two areas, and do their jobs very well to succeed.

I like Microsoft. I really do. I usually like what Steve Ballmer has to say. It's usually interesting and informative. What's referenced below doesn't quite sound like a complete statement or thought. I hope it isn't.

Richard



The World According to Ballmer
Microsoft's CEO was in feisty form at a recent talk hosted by Stanford University. Here are some of the highlights


Never let it be said that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't competitive.

Speaking to a packed auditorium at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., on May 12, Ballmer trumpeted the ripe opportunities around Microsoft's sprawling business and questioned the ability of Google (GOOG ) to maintain its edge. Clearly alluding to Microsoft's key Internet search rival, Ballmer said: "The hottest company right now -- the one nobody thinks can do any wrong -- may just be a one-hit wonder."

In a speech that spanned topics from what Ballmer would have done had he not joined Microsoft (MSFT ) 25 years ago (probably auto-insurance sales) to the launch later in the day of Microsoft's second-generation Xbox video game console, Ballmer focused most of his remarks on innovation. He predicted that industry-rattling innovation will sweep through the technology markets in the coming years.

MOBILE MANAGER. "I've lost track of the number of times people have said the personal computer has reached its limits," said Ballmer. "We'll see as much innovation in tech over the next five years as we saw in the past decade."

Among the areas most ripe for innovation, according to Ballmer, are digital entertainment and the unification and increased potency of communications devices, from cell phones to instant messaging on a computer. Just two days ago, Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its operating system for mobile computing devices (see BW Online, 5/11/05, "Microsoft's Mobile Initiative"). Software, Ballmer says, will provide a key to "more effectively manage all of the communications you're involved with."

LABOR OF LOVE. The booming search market, in which Microsoft recently unveiled technology meant to better compete with Google and Yahoo! (YHOO ), was also singled out by Ballmer. The way people search and organize information, he predicted, will be vastly different five years from now. "We've only scratched the surface," he says.

The speech was hosted by the Stanford Business School, which Ballmer attended for one year before dropping out to join his friend Bill Gates at software startup Microsoft. Ballmer told the audience he sees himself working another 12 years, which would take him to age 61, before retiring. "I don't have to do what I do," he remarked. On the other hand, "how much better does it get?"

Looks like it will be some time before he tries to find out.

GreaseMonkey

Greasemonkey seems to be the latest flame (affectionate) for the tech community. It's easy to understand why.

Anyhow, its become so popular it looks like their site keeps going down.... greasemonkey.mozdev.org. So if you don't know about it, you might try Dive Into GreaseMonkey instead.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Google's search results with a Yahoo! tab. Nice.

Richard

Smart Move - Learn from Firefox

One thing I really like about Firefox is the tabs. Yes, I've used NN, but Firefox just seemed to get it right. I'm looking forward to the new Netscape Navigator which I've been fortunate enough to get some previews / insights into.

Even more impressive is the Netscape Navigator 9 already in development which I've had laid out for me. I'm expecting it will up the stakes for everone again. I understand it is being designed to be the most secure browser on the market, and much more stable than anything else out there. Of course, who knows what will happen by the time it's available to the public.

Anyhow, in the meantime, Microsoft is announcing that the "tabbed browsing experience" will be pretty basic in the IE 7 Beta. I'm assuming that will quickly shift to 'not basic' when the first update is released.

It really is nice using Firefox and not having so many program tabs in the task bar. Imagine if every email box had its own taskbar item? Yeesh! I find it strange enough that each window in Excel and Word (etc) have their own taskbar icon. You used to be able to cycle through them easily enough when you just clicked on the "Window" menu within each program. Switching away from a taskbar item per open document would be a nice improvement in the next iteration of Office.

While MS is at it, (taking cues from Firefox), do you suppose they could also look at some of the more popular plug-ins for Firefox, and make versions for IE? It's pretty obvious people are downloading FF because of the features, not because they despise IE. I use both.

*******

Anyhow, here's the article.

Microsoft has confirmed that its upcoming version of Internet Explorer will include tabbed browsing, a feature made popular by competitors Opera Software and Firefox.

In a Microsoft blog, IE product unit manager Dean Hachamovitch told consumers not to expect too much from tabbed browsing in IE's beta offering.

"The tabbed browsing experience in the upcoming IE 7 beta is pretty basic," he said. "The main goal for tabs in our beta release is to make sure our implementation delivers on compatibility and security. The variety of IE configurations and add-ins across the Internet is tremendous."

Hachamovitch said his team would seek feedback to help iron out bugs in the feature. "We've also looked closely at reported vulnerabilities in other implementations of tabbed browsing," he said.

The IE executive also explained the motivation behind keeping the feature--which has been available for some years in competing products--out of IE until now.

"Some people have asked why we didn't put tabs in IE sooner," he said. "Initially, we had some concerns around complexity and consistency--will it confuse users more than it benefits them? Is it confusing if IE has tabs, but other core parts of the Windows experience, like Windows Media Player or the shell, don't have tabs?"

Hachamovitch admitted he thinks his company made the wrong decision on tabs--a decision he is happy to reverse.

But the reversal is not good enough for at least one Firefox developer. The open-source browser's release manager and quality assurance lead, Asa Dotzler, posted a response on his own blog to the IE 7 update.

"I suspect that this announcement could be translated to 'we decided late in the game that we needed tabs and they're nowhere near done, so don't flame us when you see them,'" Dotzler wrote.

The Firefox developer contended that Microsoft's motivation in adding the tabbed browsing feature was more related to preserving its software monopoly than providing services to its users.

"Does this mean that the IE 7 user won't benefit? No, not at all. Just because their motivation is lame doesn't mean that the resulting software will suck. But I do think that all software bears the mark of the motivation behind its creation."

"With Firefox, I think our motives are obvious to our users. People understand that we're working to make the Web better for them," he added.

Hachamovitch, however, pointed out that people have been able to use tabbed browsing with the existing version of IE for some time by using freely downloadable third-party solutions like the one provided by Maxthon.

"I think all of these are great," he said. "They demonstrate how extensible the IE platform is. They also provide tabbed browsing in IE on top of Windows versions (like Windows 98) that IE 7 will not support."

Google puts brakes on Accelerator | CNET News.com

This makes me laugh. I'm not really trying to pick on Google today - (in fact I'm writing this comment on a week old item which I just ran across) - I have a ton of respect for them and Yahoo. Just seems like I'm seeing absurb and/or useless news about them that I feel a need to comment on.

Aside from Blogger running really slowly a lot of the time (note that for now I am using it nonetheless, until we decide to migrate the blog to be internal to you site), I have always found that Google builds quick, efficient and scalable systems. I doubt that there was so much pent up need for an accelerator that the online world overwhelmed Google with download requests that quickly upon release.

I understand that the accelerator is now being referred to as "a limited beta," and that enough copies had been distributed. I don't think I ever saw it mentioned as a limited beta in prior posts. Perhaps it has more to do with all the issues they discovered when people actually started using it. I looked at it when it was released - but I don't need an accelerator - my connections are fast enough, thank-you. I had written this off earlier but then I noticed Jeremy Zawodny's comment, and realized I was not alone in my thoughts...



Richard

Google unveils desktop search for businesses

More Google news....

A desktop search product for businesses... hmmmm... another desktop search tool. This one's selling feature is the product is encrypted. Shouldn't your corporate network be excrypted anyhow?

I don't know, this doesn't really spark a chord with me. But I find the whole desktop search tool market to be somewhat overblown. Apple's safari is great. (I don't use a Mac, but I've seen it in action) But quite honestly, I almost never run a desktop search unless I'm looking for a .dll. Once every 4 or 5 months I look for a file which I have misplaced - that usually eats up less than 30 seconds of my time. Hardly worth installing a desktop search tool to deal with. I probably could go a year or two until I recovererd my install time - how's that for ROI???

My system is organized in a pretty straightforward way: I know if I've downloaded a file then it's going to be in my downloads folder, if it came in via email, then a copy is in my attachments folder, (I don't use Outlook since other tools seem to work better for this), and if I created it, it's within it's relevant folder. Perhaps if I just saved files at random - press 'save as' and accepted whichever folder popped up - I might see value in such a tool. But do people really work that way?

Anyhow.... As I said, I find the desktop search market overblown.

**** Here's the release **** from CNET


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Google Inc. released a desktop search product for businesses late Tuesday.

The company hopes the tool will help workers find information more quickly on the Web, in their computer hard drives and e-mail inboxes, as well as on corporate intranets.

Dave Girouard, general manager of Google Enterprise, said the business edition of desktop search is based on Google's (up $2.08 to $233.13, Research) consumer product but includes features particularly for business users.

Among other things, the free downloadable software is integrated with Google's Search Appliance and Mini -- which search company intranets -- and Lotus Notes, the ubiquitous business e-mail system from IBM (down $0.05 to $74.29, Research).

Additionally, Girouard said, all of the data that is indexed and stored on its enterprise desktop search product is encrypted for security reasons.

Google's Enterprise Appliance customers include Boeing and Morgan Stanley, Girouard said.

Microsoft Corp. (down $0.03 to $25.46, Research), the world's largest software manufacturer and increasingly a Google rival, launched the final version of its desktop search tool this week and said it would also offer it to enterprises for use on corporate computers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Kelsey Group

Good note by Greg Sterling.

I fundamentally agree with him - blogs will never replace traditional media. In fact I think anyone who claims otherwise is out to lunch!

Blogs have been around, as a common tool, for less than 2 years. That doesn't even begin to compare with general media. But they offer an immediacy that traditional media lacks.

CNN has attempted to have reporters within 1 hour of any story worldwide. Blogs are questionably updated within minutes of any event around the world, which is within reach of an Internet connection. Even if CNN is going to send a report to an event 30 minutes away, someone with a blog somewhere will almost certainly report it before they do.

Here's Greg's comments:

The spin being given to a new report by Pew and marketing firm BuzzMetrics entitled, “Buzz, Blogs and Beyond: The Internet and the National Discourse in the Fall of 2004” is that blogs have not displaced traditional media in terms of influence. (That’s the clear expectation based on all the hype blogs have received.)

So blogs aren’t such a big deal after all—right?

Not so fast. That facile conclusion ignores the fact that blogs have been around as a “mainstream” phenomenon for less than two years. In addition, the report looked only at the coverage of a single issue, “Rathergate,” and the relationship between blogs and mainstream media treatment of that scandal.

Blogs will never “replace” traditional media—the more blogs there are the more brand/credibility matters, which favors traditional media—but they may dilute or fragment the audience, which has implications for mainstream media.

In some cases, blogs will also have a profound impact on consumer perceptions (e.g., Star Wars “buzz” in the blogosphere) and thus the bottom line, or on the coverage of a particular news story (Reuters cites a University of Connecticut poll that purports to show eight in 10 journalists read blogs).

And like the complicated relationship between online and traditional advertising, blogs complicate the media landscape, which does appear to be one of the findings of the Pew/BuzzMetrics report.

Posted by Greg Sterling on 05/17 at 12:00 PM