Archives for posts with tag: rant

Happy New Year, everyone! Based on excerpts from my Facebook feed, the consensus seems to be that 2013 is going to be a good one and, personally, I’m inclined to agree!

The end of the year/new year transition period generally brings two things when it comes to articles in the media: 1) recaps of the previous year and 2) bold predictions for the new year. My good friend, Erik, shot me an article from the latter camp that suggested that the “New SEO” would favor content over tactics and that that would be good for publishers. It’s a well-written article from August of 2012 that’s making the rounds again now. I wrote a response to Erik but I realized that it might be useful to post it as a blog (which is why you’re reading this now, even if you aren’t Erik).

So, to begin, the notion that SEO is about creating good content rather than “fooling” the search engines has been the way of the world since at least early 2011 for agencies like Wpromote, the company for which I work. As a result, it seems the author is trying to speak to the layperson rather than SEO experts. Perhaps that was precisely his intention.

Also, and this is what’s much more interesting to me, there’s still a strong argument to be made that the “content is king” platitude is not even close to a truism yet. For example, take, a site that is extremely successful at SEO. This site does create original content but the vast majority of their content is reposted from other sources and they’ve been criticized harshly for this very reason. has denied the allegations but that’s not what I came here to point out, although there is ancillary relevance to the discussion.

Moving on, let’s take a look at their current front page:


The headline links to this article with a much more SEO friendly title.

This is essentially a repost of the Associated Press story that is cited in the article. Note that although they used essentially all the text in AP story, HuffPo didn’t actually link back to despite linking to other HuffPo articles five times!¹ In my opinion, there’s nothing necessarily unethical going on but I would always recommend linking back to the original source as common courtesy at the very least. However, from an SEO perspective, it doesn’t benefit HuffPo to give another news source a link, so why do it? Plus, they got to use all of the keyword-rich text that the AP story used by citing it in full.

Now, let’s do a Google search for “John Boehner”:


What do you know?! The HuffPo article is one of the top links and AP is nowhere to be found. Google still isn’t good at assigning credit in this situation in the short term but the short term is all that really matters. Even if the AP article manages to outpace HuffPo’s in the future (unlikely anyway), nobody will care by tomorrow. It will quite literally be old news.

So, there you go: HuffPo waited for the AP story to come out, added a little bit of left-wing seasoning to appeal to their audience², copied and pasted the AP story in full, stuffed the top of the story with the relevant keywords that people will likely use to find the story in Google (look at the “FOLLOW” tags), and win another round of the SEO game thanks to tactics triumphing over content.

I’m not suggesting that HuffPo did anything wrong–that’s an argument for another day–I’m merely pointing out an issue that will continue be difficult for Google to deal with.

Nothing is ever simple in the world of SEO and although it’s getting tougher and tougher to game the system, it can still be an effective strategy when done properly using accepted best practices.

¹ I would be remiss to leave out that HuffPo does link to an NPR story, however, given that the AP story is cited in full, I felt that this point was somewhat irrelevant to the fundamental argument of the post.

² By “left-wing seasoning” I am referring to the front page headline of “By a Nose.” Although Boehner’s victory may have been slimmer than expected by some, I wouldn’t personally consider a vote of 220-192 a win “by a nose.”


SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act. Normally, neither I nor any other blogger would bother elaborating much further because it’s easier to hyperlink to a Wikipedia article that would give you the gist. That’s the beauty of the free dissemination of information made possible by the Internet. However, today, Wikipedia and a growing contingent of other sites including Google, Reddit, Mashable, Mozilla, Etsy, Wired and others are fighting back by blacking out their sites for the day in protest against SOPA.

Why would they do this? Because although SOPA and PIPA (Protect Internet Protocol Act) may have been written initially to stop online piracy of music and films, the way that the legislation is written would allow for the government to shut down any websites that contain or even link to other sites that contain any pirated material without due process. As the Oatmeal puts it, “This is like dealing with a lion that has escaped from the zoo by blasting some kittens with a flamethrower.” That’s not far off, either. Technically, Justin Bieber’s rise to fame on YouTube could have shut down the entire site just because he was singing his favorite songs that were the intellectual property of record companies. You may not like Justin Bieber, but you probably don’t think that YouTube should have to shut its doors because of a little kid with a great voice and a silly haircut! 

In response to these bills, sites across the Internet have been shutting themselves down in an effort to make a statement that although piracy may be bad, SOPA and PIPA would be worse.

Everyone should be able to agree that stealing is wrong. However, that does not mean that this makes SOPA or PIPA worth voting for. The punishment should fit the crime and, more importantly, the solution should do less harm to society than the problem. In my opinion, any measure taken to stop a problem that invokes the circumvention of due process falls into that category of doing more harm than good. If we can “put up with” due process for murderers and rapists, I cannot understand why we wouldn’t extend it to kids who just didn’t want to pay $14.99 for Watch the Throne. Of course, if you’re a suspected terrorist–i.e. not a terrorist, necessarily, but a suspected terrorist–the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has already done away with your due process as of earlier this year.

The reason that the Bill of Rights was written and then later extended to the states in the 14th Amendment was because those rights (free speech, freedom of religion, due process, freedom of assembly**, etc.) were supposed to be inalienable for all people. With the NDAA, we’ve already passed one bill that would allow indefinite detention of American citizens without due process; I hope that we won’t make denying our constitutional rights the new national pastime here in the USA. Piracy is bad but Orwellian censorship and consolidated government oversight are worse, inexcusable and thoroughly un-American.

To sign a petition to stand against SOPA and PIPA, please go to Thanks! 

**In my opinion, the liberal use of force in quelling the “Occupy” protests showed that freedom of assembly is also severely under attack.



I love, it's one of the only things I link to permanently on my site. See? You can see it there to the right.

What most impresses me about Mint is that it's probably the best budgeting/personal finance software out there. On top of that, it's totally free! I recommend it to anyone I come in contact with who hasn't tried it. Most who do are immediately hooked. It turns keeping track of your finances into an obsession, in a good way! Most of us could stand to be more observant of the comings and goings of our cash.

The biggest concern using a service like Mint is that you are putting a bevy of very private information in one place and trusting a faceless company not to misuse it. These are usernames, passwords, stats and figures that you probably wouldn't give to your sister or brother but are giving to Mint! When you think about that, it seems like a huge risk and–don't kid yourself–it is. The only reason that I trust Mint with my info is because it would be disastrous for them if my information were ever compromised. I'm not sure that that's good critical thinking on my part but I enjoy the service so much that I'm willing to take on the risk.

Then, Mint pulls stuff like this. Basically, they take their user data and compile it into an aggregate to make a cool infographic that generates traffic and publicity for them. As a piece of linkbait, this is great, however, it also reminds me how much trust I'm putting into Mint. What are they doing with my data over there? Well, making linkbait, for starters. So far, I'm not that worried; I just wonder if Mint takes into account how nervous they make their users when they display information like this publicly when they are creating an infographic like this in an effort to drum up interest.

There are two sides to every coin and, right now, Mint is seeing both sides of all my coins. So please, Mint, be careful with my data. Don't let today's infographic turn into tomorrow's sharing-my-info-with-the-IRS. Not that I have anything to hide, of course… []


For the past week or so, I've been trying to get into foursquare. It's a service sort of like Twitter that is based around checking in at different places (e.g. restaurants, bars, parks, etc.) and earning points and rankings for each one. You can also leave tips for other people ("If the special at Fritto Misto is the short rib raviolis, you have to try it!), see who's nearby and make friends but really, it's all about points and rankings. It's like competitive Twitter: all the bragging about where you've been but with none of the communication or cool links that just get in the way.

As a person in my line of work, I feel that it's important to try the the "hot, new fads" as they roll out. It's not that I felt any inherent need to let people know that I just checked in to Wpromote, it's just that I thought I'd look in to all the fuss about foursquare.

Thus far, my experience with foursquare has not been what I would call a success. What foursquare has taught me in the past week is that I spend a lot of time at work and home and little time elsewhere. The time that I do spend not working or homing is generally taken up by forgetting to check in on foursquare. I failed to check in at Medieval Times on Friday, I forgot to check in at Barnacles after football on Sunday and I couldn't be bothered to check in while I was at the driving range on Tuesday.

I think I've narrowed down the problem: it's either my heart or my mind: either my heart just really isn't into it or my mind is elsewhere when I should be checking in. You know, somewhere like too in the moment to pull out my phone and check in.

So, does that mean that foursquare is a bad idea? Not at all. I can totally understand why people get competitive about this sort of thing. After all, I may not be the President and CEO of Wpromote (that honor belongs to my good friend Michael Mothner) but I am the Mayor of Wpromote! So, if we ever have a big disagreement about company policy, does that mean that I outrank him? We'll have to wait and see. Maybe I'll snatch his parking spot and see how it all shakes out.

Still, competition alone hasn't been enough to get me jazzed on foursquare and I think I've only got about a month of sporadic in-checking left in me. Now that foursquare has added the ability to become a Barista at Starbucks, I can't see myself stomaching supporting this sort of behavior for much longer. Don't get me wrong, I respect the cross-promotional aspects of the move, I just hate that Starbucks' nomenclature is beginning to cross over into real life. If I ever have to use the word "tall" to describe anything other than buildings, mountain, basketball players or difficult "orders" I think I'm going to move to Scotland where that sort of nonsense doesn't fly. "Can I get a tall Macallan 12, two Splendas and a splash of non-dairy creamer?" Get ready to know what a caber feels like.

But I digress… The point is that after a week of using it, I don't think that foursquare is for me. It is unique, though, and I would recommend that anyone who is the kind of person who enjoys Twitter, updating their Facebook profile with consistency or meeting new people with similar interests give it a whirl for at least a week. Just don't try and take my mayorship of Wpromote; I'll have you in the stocks in the middle of town square before you can tweet about it!


Last year, after the failed takeover attempt of Yahoo by Microsoft, the two much smaller legs of the search marketing tripod (which also includes Google as a much, much bigger leg) came together with a different sort of deal. Microsoft will still be taking over Yahoo's search marketing but not taking over Yahoo as a whole. Today, the deal was finally approved by the US government and the European Union.

This brings us full circle. It started with Overture, a smart little company that sort of invented search marketing, in a way, which was purchased years ago by Yahoo. Trhough Overture, you could not only advertise on Yahoo properties, but also on Microsoft's search engine: MSN/Live. Eventually Microsoft realized that they could be making the sort of money that Yahoo was raking in with Overture and decided to part ways and develop their own platform which they labeled MSN adCenter. Overture was renamed Yahoo Search Marketing and carried on with an improved interface. Now, with Yahoo in financial dire straits, Microsoft has come a-knockin' to save it from the revenue stream that it helped to bring to prominence.

This is a really sad development, in my mind. Yahoo was far from perfect and far from Google AdWords, but one thing that it was not, was MSN adCenter. Confused? Fair enough. Basically, Google AdWords is the alpha dog. Not only do you reach more people through it than through Yahoo and MSN/Bing combined, but it is also–by leaps and bounds–the best interface with the best user experience and best tools. Yahoo is a distant second. However, as distant a second as Yahoo may be from Google, MSN is more so a distant third to Yahoo. Using adCenter is the search marketing equivalent of Sisyphusian toil. I won't bother with the details here. My worry, of course, is that, eventually, adCenter and all of its dreadful shortcomings will replace what is a flawed but working Yahoo interface rather than the other way around.

Most people think of me as a pessimist and they're right. I'm the guy with low expectations who is secretly hoping to be pleasantly surprised all the time. I mean, it's possible that a Yahoo/Microsoft cooperative effort will actually increase competition with Google and, therefore, drive improvements all around, right? I don't know, my hopes are pretty low; they are almost as low as when I saw the movie Valentine's Day this past weekend. Those were some monumentally low hopes. Even still, Valentine's Day still managed to disappoint. So, to Microsoft, I proffer, "Please, if possible, consider that if you blow this, you will have succeed in trumping the movie Valentine's Day at being remarkably terrible despite impossibly low expectations."

Please don't blow this. [ReadWriteWeb]

Just about a month ago, I editorialized on the Wpromote blog about Google’s response to Yelp’s refusal to be purchased by Google:

Hell hath no fury like Sergey and Larry [Google’s founders] scorned. Keep in mind, all you innovators out there, that if Google offers to buy you out, what they are really saying is, “Don’t make us do what you do, only better!” Remember MapQuest? Yeah, neither do I.

Well, it looks like Twitter may be getting similar comeuppance. Google just announced Google Buzz and you can learn about it in the video above or in the TechCrunch article hot off the presses.

This move by Google is significant for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s built into Gmail and tons of people already use Gmail.
  2. It’s an outstanding parry to Facebook’s decision to try their hand at email (which would compete directly with Gmail).
  3. If you have Facebook and Gmail, one could argue that Twitter may be on its way to irrelevancy.

Let’s speak to #3 because it’s a pretty bold statement. By the way, if you want to come off as a jerk, refer to your own statements as “bold.” It’s wicked-effective. Anyway, let’s think about the things that people use Twitter for:

  1. Updating peers on what they’re doing: Facebook and Buzz now have this covered.
  2. Sharing with peers things like pics, articles, memes, etc.: Facebook and Buzz now have this covered.
  3. Updating non-peers on the points above: Facebook and Buzz can have this covered (depending on privacy settings).
  4. Following peers and their activities: Facebook and Buzz now have this covered.
  5. Following non-peers such as celebrities, companies, etc. and their activities: Twitter alone has this covered.

One thing to remember is that just because someone else does something just as well or better than you doesn’t necessarily make you irrelevant or obsolete. The problem for Twitter is that Facebook and Gmail have larger user bases and, very arguably, command more frequent interaction than Twitter. For example, I have to check my Gmail and my Facebook everyday because people attempt to contact me on both. With Twitter, I really only have to use it if I have something to share or if I have a huge following that I value that requires maintenance via frequent tweets to keep. For new adopters, Twitter may seem like a hassle; Facebook status updates and Buzz may seem like optional, additional features that I can choose to engage or ignore without abandoning the media entirely (i.e. Gmail and Facebook).

Sure, Twitter is still the best way to find out what Shaq is up to or what news stories are new on CNN. It’s also the best way to shout into an abyss. By that I mean that I have a Twitter account, I tweet all the time, I even have alleged “followers” but the only people who might care about my tweets tend about to come from my Facebook account anyway. So, if you really want information on people that you don’t know but are interested in, Twitter is still relevant. Also, if you’re egotistical enough to think that people who don’t know you would care about the things you do, think or care about, Twitter is still your best option. That doesn’t make Twitter useless, however, it does throw a huge monkey wrench into their business model which is based on growth of unique users.

I’m not a doctor, so I’m not the kind of person to solemnly walk into Twitter’s offices in San Francisco and say, “Twitter, I’m sorry but you only have six months to live.” I don’t plan to call Twitter’s time of death anytime soon. All that I’ saying is that Twitter cannot be happy about Google entering the social foray. Neither should Facebook be too thrilled but with Facebook’s model, I think that they are more likely to be able to put up a better fight.

Remember these words, my friend, for a wise, handsome, talented, rugged man once said them: “Hell hath no fury like Sergey and Larry scorned.”


Google vs. Apple vs. Microsoft and every other iteration. That's been the story of the last few months. Google and Apple hate Microsoft because they lead the way in desktop apps. Google and Microsoft hate Apple because they lead the way in mobile technology. Apple and Microsoft hate Google because Google is encroaching on their territory in both cases. That's the stripped down version, at least. They fight over way more: browsers, operating systems, online applications, search, and even slogans. Just yesterday, I was musing at how it seemed like "just yesterday" (which would be the day before yesterday, I guess, in this story) that it was Apple and Google vs. Microsoft and that was it. Microsoft was the big, bad behemoth and Apple and Google were the shining innovators looking to take down the old regime. "My! how things have changed," I thought to myself.

Well, as it turns out, if you pay close attention, this isn't a three-horse race.

The other player in this game is Facebook. Facebook? Yeah, Facebook, you know: the third most highly trafficked site on the Internet, the most pervasive social phenomenon of the day, the #1 destination for the nation's youth, young adults and young professionals. Sure, you may use Google to search for something or Wikipedia to find out more about it but it's Facebook that you'll hang out, communicate and interact. Well, as it turns out, Facebook is looking to take aim at Gmail and traditional email with the release of Project Titan. This full-featured email system could very well change the way that people look at email. Yeah, we were saying the same thing about Google Wave but the difficult of Google Wave is getting everyone on board. For the most part, all of my peers already are on board with Facebook. Integration of your online social space with email would only make Facebook that much more useful (rather than complicated, as is the current hurdle with Wave).

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch sums it up well, "Gmail killer? I don’t think so. But a strong product move nonetheless." No kidding!

Kudos to Facebook. They may be the dark horse but they are definitely a contender is what appears to be a true four-horse race. [TechCrunch]


I hate to crap in the punchbowl but I’m somewhat of a techie dude and an Apple fanboy and, so far, I’m a bit disappointed in what I’ve seen from Apple’s brand new iPad. I own a laptop and it’s great for helping me work. I own an iPhone and it’s the best mobile device around. I own a Kindle and it has truly reignited my love of reading.

So, what the heck am I going to do with an iPad?

Maybe I’m not the target market. Maybe, if you own all three of these devices, you’d be foolish to dole out $700+ for an iPad. And yes, I know that the device starts at $499 but, seriously, if this is truly going to change the way you listen to music, do work, watch TV shows and movies, etc. you’re going to need at least 64GB. Heck, I have 32GB+ of music alone!

So, again, maybe Apple isn’t going after me and my money. But, even if you only have two of the three devices, would you seriously consider buying an iPad?

Let’s assume that everyone who gives a flying fig about the iPad in the first place owns a laptop that they consider serviceable. I think that’s fair. That leaves three scenarios: a laptop owner who also owns an iPhone (but no Kindle), a laptop owner who also owns a Kindle (but no iPhone) and a laptop owner with neither an iPhone nor a Kindle.

Scenario 1: Laptop + iPhone. My guess is that if you own a laptop and an iPhone, you aren’t going to spring for a device that ads the functionality of an eBook reader and little else. Anyone who has ever used a Kindle knows that the advantage of the device isn’t the capacity to hold thousands of books or the ability to download books and articles on demand; the advantage is the opaque screen/e-ink system that makes reading just as easy on your eyes as reading actual ink on paper. It might even be easier! Couple that with the fact that Amazon eBooks are cheaper than all other books (“e” or not) and the Kindle will pay itself off in a year for an avid reader; Apple plans to charge around $15/book for a smaller selection of books. I hate reading off of my monitor, I hate reading off of my laptop and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that I’d hate reading off of yet another backlit device like the iPad.

Here’s an idea, Apple: either make a device that can somehow transition from a backlit screen to an opaque screen seamlessly or stop calling the device “magical.” Yes, I know that that would be a tall order but a tall order is what you expect when your spokespeople refer to a single device as “magical” more than three times in a single presentation!

Scenario 2: Laptop + Kindle. Now, let’s say you own a laptop and a Kindle (or similar device) but no iPhone. Well, perhaps the iPad is for you, right? Umm… wrong. Considering the size of the iPad, it’s not going into your pocket. Considering the price of the iPad, you’re not just going to tuck it under your arm; you’re going to need a messenger bag. So, if I need a messenger bag and I’ve already got my laptop and Kindle in my messenger bag, there’s no reason add an iPad to the mix.

To be honest, it would just make more sense to purchase a cheaper, 85% as functional iPhone at this point or just be satisfied with whatever functionality my current phone/smart phone brings to the table. Keep in mind, the iPad cannot make calls. If you are a real genius and know how to jailbreak your iPad and use a sweet combination of Google Voice and Skype, you could probably fix that but, for most normal folks, the iPad is just a big iPod touch, not a big iPhone.

Scenario 3: Laptop only. Even given a $599 price point for the non-3G, 32GB model of the iPad, I could literally go buy a $299 32GB iPhone 3GS and a $259 Kindle and have $41 left over to take my girlfriend to go see Avatar in 3D. To boot, I’d have a better, truly mobile device and a better, e-ink-based eBook reader. Assuming I own pockets and a bag for my laptop. I’ve sacrificed nothing in terms of convenience.

The only thing I’ve ignored so far is gaming, which, apparently, some crazy people would plan on doing with their iPad. Most gamers would probably agree that this is a joke. Also, if I saw a guy holding his iPad at “ten and two” with his arms outstretched, twisting at the shoulders as if he were driving a Formula 1 car through a series of chicanes, I would walk up and slap the device onto the ground out of principle. Really? You’re going to use a $700+ piece of equipment as a virtual steering wheel in public? That’s just unacceptable. Wait until you get home and play Xbox like an adult!

I love Apple. It’s up there with my favorite brands: Google, Pixar, Alberton’s Generic Oatmeal, etc. I’m loyal to them because they almost always get it right. I still hope that I’m proven wrong about the iPad, however, unless I’m missing something big, it looks like it’s poised to be the biggest flop since the last Apple tablet: the Newton. The only way I could imagine someone justifying purchasing this thing is because it’s worth the price to them as a status symbol alone. If that happens and the iPad succeeds, the good news will be that the recession is officially over and Americans are ready to start irresponsibly burning cash again!

[See a review of Apple’s presentation at Engadget]

[Edit: Additional, damning review from Gizmodo]


I got an email last night from Mountain West Research asking me to take a survey. It's a survey about California, its politics, the upcoming election and technology as an economic factor in California. Because I always complain about the statistics touted by talking heads that originate from surveys–often saying things like, "There's no way that many people prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate!"–I try to complete every legitimate survey that comes my way. You can't complain about the president if you don't vote, so, it stands to reason that you can't complain about shoddy statistics if you don't complete surveys, right?


The reason is because 93% of statistics are complete BS. See? There's a BS statistic right there! Seriously, though, there are lots of issues with surveys and the questioning methodology that lead to bad stats. The image above demonstrates a couple of big ones.

First of all, this is the most leading question I've ever read. The question should read something like, "Are you proud of California's participation in the tech sector in the past?" Instead, it paints a picture of California as a global leader in tech; it mentions the biggest success stories in tech (and none of the failures); it portrays tech as an economic boon to the states (and fails to mention that little bubble we had a few years back).

Is California a leader in tech? Sure. Am I proud? Absolutely, but don't make those who might otherwise say "No" feel foolish for doing so right there in the question! That's just bad data-gathering!

The second thing I hate about surveys like this is that there is no room for ambiguity. I think that it's probably fair to say that there are a lot of Californians that are neither bursting with pride nor filled with shame about California's history in the tech sector. Let's say you're one of these people. How do you answer? Do you choose "No" because, specifically, the emotion of pride does not adequately express the way you feel about tech in California? Do you say "Yes" because, now that you think about it, you guess it is kind of cool that Google is a California company, even though you never thought about it at all before? Why is there no third option for "no strong feelings" for this question?

I don't know for certain, however, based on the survey questions and the name of the firm (Mountain West Research), I'm pretty sure that the folks behind this survey are hoping for positive sentiments about the tech sector in California. Mountain West, CA, after all, is home to Google's main campus and next door to other Silicon Valley giants mentioned in this question. The sad truth is that, for the most part, all surveys come from biased origins because only people with a bias actually care enough to fund and distribute the survey in the first place. So, anytime you see opinion polls like this, just remember to take the statistics delivered with a grain of salt. My guess is that 19% of you will take my advice, 33% of you will ignore it, 35% of you feel like you didn't need it in the first place and 13% of you will go overboard and take such results with two or more grains of salt. I can't be sure though; I'm still waiting for the results of my survey to come back.


I wanted to get serious for just a moment and address the Haitian earthquake situation. Many people feel the need to help and, for the most part, that’s fantastic. I just wanted to recommend that if you are one of these people, please think twice about blindly donating to the Red Cross. The Red Cross accomplishes a lot of good things around the globe, however, as a gigantic entity in sizable debt, it is unlikely that a high percentage of your donated dollars are actually getting to the people who have been most affected.

A better bet might be considering a donation to Partners in Health which has a sterling reputation for getting a higher percentage of your dollars to the victims. Check out this NPR story about the group’s founder, Dr. Paul Farmer.

The death toll is over 100,000 at this point and the overall damage to Haitian society is incalculable, so it’s extremely important that donations go as far as possible. Thanks for reading this and God bless the people of Haiti who have been lost and those that have lost people close to them. [NPR]