Back To Basics

A busy week for Google, so it seems. But when is it never busy in that place?

Their latest offering is Google Base (beta). Another free service if you’ve got a Google account or gMail address. What are they running with this time? “Help The World Find Your Content”.

To be perfectly honest, its hard enough to find my own site on Google. I can find my ICQ profile from 1998. I can find my deviantART print store. No sign of my domain there. But thats another matter altogether. What I’m more interested in is that if people keep continuing submitting their sites to Google and you can’t find them – how on earth are you expected to find that Chicken Korma recipe you wrote yesterday, or that ad you posted looking for a temp for the office?

Social tagging!

Is Base a jazzed up version of del.icio.us?

Google Base enables you to add attributes that better describe your content so that users can easily find it

So I tested it out myself. Base allows you to submit ‘people profiles’, so I throw Ken McGuire up in a profile… a short while later, bang – there I am. Search ‘Ken McGuire’ on Base and you’ll find me! Search on Google and you’ve no chance.

What kind of items can you put into Google Base?

  • Description of your party planning service
  • Articles on current events from your website
  • Listing of your used car for sale
  • Database of protein structures

At least it works in the sense that your details are published almost immediately. Whatever you post, does expire after 31 days max, which is good for keeping content fresh – though you can choose to reactivate it at a later date. It’s supposed to integrate with Froogle but if it can help improve a search result on Google then I’m all for it!

Update:

I’m impressed with the relative speed and ease at which material goes up on Google Base. They are touting it as a great research tool for students, parents etc (isn’t that what the Internet is!?), I just hope it doesn’t become overcrowded with junk. Want to see my little entry…. click here.

API-ece of the Pie

So yeah…

eBay are finally opening up their API’s eh? No more charges on developers looking to access them. Good news for certain projects? Good news for certain developers? Or have eBay finally woken up to the realisation that allowing that extra openness is just good for business.

The upside for eBay?

  • More sales, more conversions, more exposure…
  • New ideas, new business opportunities for the great marketplace that is!

The downside? Well, I’m not sure if its a downside at all but it does mean for certain that there’s gonna be an awful lot of new auction sites popping up – but its all good for eBay. They’ve enough money to throw around these days anyway, buying VeriSign, buying Skype…. at least they’re giving something back to the community even if they’ll surely reap the rewards for it now!

WebServices are the way forward, there’s surely no doubting that. Having been involved in developing simple web services over the last 12 months you get to see first hand the benefit of having them in place. Amazon do it, Flickr do it, eBay had been doing it – but at least now they’re doing it for free!

Interesting times ahead….

Opening Up The Source

A look at open source developments with osCommerce and Mambo

I’m a huge fan of open source software and web developments. I love the community spirit, the hackability, the freedom to customise, move and groove like its your own web baby you’re playing with (in the spirit of programming that is!).

Anyway, I’ve been toying with osCommerce for quite a while now (well, around a year to be exact) and I’m looking to implement it in two projects – strip it to the essentials, tame the beast, customise and drive. I’ve the reference to ‘beast’ once or twice… but its nothing to be afraid of.

Thats the joy of open source – you’ve got nothing to be afraid of.

Or at least I think so anyway. But then, thats just me being me.

Confident in what I can do in osCommerce – “sure yeah, thats no bother, I’ll do that” – I’ve started looking into Mambo as an open source CMS. Now, I’m not exactly the first one in the door at the Mambo party, it’s been around the block a while, but given its potential involvement in a project I’m involved in through Event Ireland

Anyway, what I’m getting at here is to highlight an article I found pretty interesting, tying osCommerce and Mambo together and taking a look under the hood at both systems for those who are unfamiliar with them.

The article was published by Water & Stone in Thailand, and originally appeared in the Bangkok Post a few months back. Click here to read the article. I’m going to do my own test installation and customisation of Mambo and we’ll see how things progress…. but if its open source, I love it already.

Update :

Well, I installed Mambo pretty easy… and then realised that the final version of Mambo, 4.5.2.3 has been replaced and is now known as Joomla… interesting. Perhaps I’m a bit slow to the Mambo game. I always preferred writing my own material or using a nuke (my, php, post etc.) based CMS…. was a relatively easy installation tho – so much to do though once you get in there!

Analytics : Seeing What Works

Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. You’ll be able to focus your marketing resources on campaigns and initiatives that deliver ROI, and improve your site to convert more visitors.

We believe that web analytics should be simple and sophisticated at the same time. We’ve designed Google Analytics to have enterprise level capabilities and yet still be accessible to anyone who wants to improve their marketing and site design. Google Analytics delivers all the features you’d expect from a high-end web analytics offering, and provides timesaving AdWords integration features.

If you have an AdWords account, you can use Google Analytics directly from the AdWords interface. Google Analytics is the only product that can automatically provide AdWords ROI metrics, without you having to import cost data or add tracking information to keywords. Of course, Google Analytics tracks all of your non-AdWords initiatives as well.

I’ve just signed up for a dedicated AdWords account for my blog to begin testing both features but from running through the interface it seems like Google have yet again come up with another winner. The installation of the tracker is simple – a little copy and pasting of a few lines of JavaScript into your head tags and away you go.

Best feature? It doesn’t cost you a penny…. Check Out Google Analytics

Promoting Your Blog?

So I’ve been doing a little reading on how best to promote your blog. I’ve recently set up another blog for Young Irish Film Makers, which should hopefully generate more traffic for their site and organisation – once its promoted properly.

But how do you go about promoting a blog? What does your reader want? Do you actually have any readers at all? Its more and more the way to go (blogging that is…) so where’s best to start? I found two places this week that are helping millions of other blog users so I thought I’d try them out and see if they can help me at all!

First off is Technorati. If you take a look at the end of the page (way down at the end) you’ll notice a new Technorati link. They’re busy pushing themselves as the authority on blogging.

The Pew Internet study estimates that about 11%, or about 50 million, of Internet users are regular blog readers. A new weblog is created every 7.4 seconds, which means there are about 12,000 new blogs a day. Bloggers — people who write weblogs — update their weblogs regularly; there are about 275,000 posts daily, or about 10,800 blog updates an hour.

Technorati displays what’s important in the blogosphere — which bloggers are commanding attention, what ideas are rising in prominence, and the speed at which these conversations are taking place. Technorati makes it possible for you to find out what people on the Internet are saying about you, your company, your products, your competitors, your politics, or other areas of interest — all in real-time. All this activity is monitored and indexed within minutes of posting. Technorati provides a live view of the global conversation of the web.

Second is FeedBurner. This little ditty I only found this morning (shows how much attention I’m paying to the blog…). FeedBurner are bringing it all together and will most likely turn out like the Firefox of the browser revolution. No more worrying about XML, RSS2.0, RSS.92, Atom etc. Feedburner makes your blog feeds user and browser friendly, while also providing great ways to promote and publish your blog. Want to podcast with your blog? Make it available as a mobile edition? Improve pings? Email subscriptions and general reader usage? No problem…

Enter FeedBurner. We offer a full range of services to help you build awareness, track circulation, and implement revenue-generating programs in your feed(s). A slew of publishers (90,000 and counting) currently take advantage of FeedBurner’s services, many of which are free and have been called “awesome” by these same customers

When Will People Learn?

So this morning I was talking to the wife of the president of Togo who unforunately, as it happens, passed away a few short months ago and only went and left his wife with the horrible task of shifting $21,000,000 out of the country to invest in a business. So she hits me up… you can imagine the conversation…

“Ken, hows it goin, Marie here!” (thats her name)

“Ah Marie, Jesus, long time no see… hows himself keeping?”

“Ah sure you know, kinda died and stuff, so now I need your bank account details to help me move $21 million out of the country. I know you’ve recently started a new business, is there any chance of an investment?”

“$21,000,000…. God Marie, I dunno, it’s normally a $30 million buy-in but for you – no problem”

And so the conversation went on…

Yeah right. In fairness folks, when will people learn. Its the oldest trick in the book. The 4 F’s of conflict – find the enemy (or victim), fix them (keep them occupied), flank them (take them by surprise if you can…) and finish them off. The forgot to add a fifth – fishing. Or more precisely, ‘phishing’ – the technique of getting information out of someone under a guise. Working for a previous internet technologies company I had experience in dealing with people who had lost out financially in this situation, or in the simplest of cases just given up their password on the ruse of a ‘security check’ only to have their credit card details lifted, massive bills… you know the rest.

If someone offers you twenty million dollars as soon as you walk into the office, its bound to be too good to be true…..

When will people learn….

When Business Becomes A Pleasure

When business becomes a pleasure.

People say you should never mix both – keep them apart at all times. Unless of course you’re in a job that you love doing things that you love. Needless to say the business world has its pressures – demands from clients, demands from yourself, constantly trying to raise the bar and improve your own game while raising the standard of others.

So today I had the pleasure of asking a good friend of mine to become a part of our small but expanding business. No greater pleasure than working with friends, doing what you do best, day in day out.

The business started out from a friendship, developing to a partnership that works effectively and when you have the strength and resources in friends to further strengthen and add value to your own business then you’ve got to smile.

So two will become three as the workload has increased a lot more than we possibly anticipated with new avenues opening up daily, new ideas being tossed around and developed and a firm direction being put on what we’ve started.

Early days, but great days.

Startup looks for money in online video

A new company called Revver is trying to change the fact that most online videos (those submitted by the lightsabre wielding fans of this world, amongst others) don’t make money by attaching advertising to the videos and giving the creators a cut of the profits.

The technology, which also tracks the content as it is shared across the Web, is not limited to amateurs. Major media companies, which are just beginning to experiment with offering TV shows and movies online, are also looking for ways to distribute across peer-to-peer networks while avoiding piracy.

Revver is the brainchild of Ian Clarke, the man behind the Freenet file-sharing network; Steven Starr, a former Hollywood agent and co-creator of MTV’s “The State;” and Oliver Luckett, who recently spearheaded the Norman Lear “Declare Yourself” voter registration campaign.

It is also backed by the same venture capital company that bankrolled Internet phone provider Skype Technologies SA, which eBay recently acquired for $2.6 billion. (These guys are sewing up…!)

People wanting to use Revver upload their videos for free to the company’s Web servers. Revver than attaches a static ad to the end of the video.

It also attaches a “RevTag,” which keeps track of how often the video is viewed no matter where it ends up. People can leave their video on the Revver site, post it on their own Web site, e-mail it to friends and even download it to a portable device.

Revver says it will split the ad revenue evenly with content creators.

Should seem some interesting times ahead. This article is available in full through Yahoo news and is available by clicking here.

Connecting People Together

The server goes down and there’s a problem with the cabling. Who you gonna call? Having a few years networking experience behind me its great to be able to pull out a box of Cat 5 cable, a few RJ45 connectors and lash a cable together. But then you forget the pairing. The simple things.

Thats when I found this…

Dux Computer Digest provides a great tutorial on making your own network cables, whether patch or crossover.

It is often the little things we overlook. Stepping through the tutorial was a breeze and the cable was cut and put together in about 2 minutes or less. Mind you, since I knew what I was doing already I had the upperhand. But you can’t fault a good tutorial.

It provides an introduction as to why we use cables and what kind of cable you need (whether you’re going PC to PC or PC to Hub etc), followed by a little history, a little theory, and with the greatest of large colour diagrams it moves on to “Lets Make Cables” while guiding you through where to make cuts, the tools you need for the job and all the rest.

What I would suggest though is that if you are making your own cables (I’m making a bunch to allow me use the XBOX and PC on broadband at home), get cables that are clearly marked (colours and stripes) and make sure you leave yourself a little slack to allow some room to move.

Good tutorial though….

Windows Mobile 2003 to Windows Mobile 5 anyone?

I’m a serious stickler for upgrading things.

12 months ago I purchased a Motorola V300. Not content with the phone I had seen as everyone was buying them up last summer I decided to take a bit of action and so tore apart my V300.

By tearing apart my V300 I mean buying new casing, transferring the internal workings of the phone to a V525 body, replacing the antenna and upgrading the camera, fitting new lights and flashing the firmware on the phone to upgrade the software end of the phone to a V600, thus unlocking more memory, a video camera and the rest. Yes folks, the V300 is the bastard offspring of the V600 – cut down in price, cut down in size but secretly – secretly – they’re the same phone.

I’m doing the same with the XBOX. Not content with something standard, I’ve ordered a ModChip, borrowed some soldering gear and I’m going to transform the innocent XBOX into a sweet multimedia console as opposed to games console.

Now its in me to get a way to upgrade from Windows Mobile 2003SE to Windows Mobile 5.

Let me draw your attention to the Windows Mobile Team Blog which makes for some interesting reading.

Then there was this….

The h6300 and hw6500 product lines are significantly more complex products that function on mobile operator networks. Mobile operator networks require stable product performance in order to maximize quality of service for their end-users. In some cases in order to maximize service performance with the new operating system, hardware changes are required. Hardware modifications to on the h6300 and hw6500 are not planned; therefore HP will not provide MS Windows Mobile 5.0 on the iPAQ h6300 and hw6500 models

Followed by this dated September 26th….

In conjunction with the unveiling of its first Windows Mobile 5.0-enabled handhelds today, Hewlett-Packard today confirmed that the company does not have an upgrade to Windows Mobile 5.0 scheduled for its iPAQ hw6515 communicator. Citing minimum hardware requirements for Windows Moile 5.0, the company also said that it had not scheduled upgrades to the latest version of Windows Mobile for any products beyond its hx2000 and hx4700 ranges of iPAQ handhelds

And finally this little ditty from engadget which might well suggest there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I don’t like waiting. I don’t like making people wait. I sure don’t like people keeping me waiting. But I’m a patient guy.