Buying Music Online: America and Europe

March 20th, 2006 § 0

On a sidenote, I am certainly glad that I bought the CD’s at the concerts as from both the Viktoria Tolstoy website and the ACT music website for her albums My Swedish Heart and Shining on You, there are no direct links to buy either of her CD’s. It shouldn’t be this hard to buy music. I criticise the Americans for their crass commercialism, but a discreet buy here link would be just fine.

Zeebee does a little better with a direct link on the album page to its page at the iTunes store. But no link to actually obtain a physical CD.

We are a long way away from (and in aesthetic terms, thank heavens) from the CDBaby site.

Two Concerts – ZeeBee and Viktoria Tolstoy:
Female Vocalists in Jazz, Alternative and Country

March 20th, 2006 § 0

Zeebee Priorities Cover330-273

Zeebee – Priorities (album cover)

I was at the ZeeBee album launch on Saturday night where legendary Vienna DJ Klaus Waldeck was playing afterwards. ZeeBee is an FM4 Vienna creation. If you don’t know FM4 is an Austrian phenomenon. The radio station has an incredible popularity among most people from 20 to 40. Personally I don’t like FM4 much.

The English langauge DJ’s are annoying and some of the German-speaking ones even more so, with a kind of cool pushed to insupportable. The musical taste strives to cover all its bases a little too much for my tastes. Many of the DJ’s seem to play whatever is ghetto and cool in the United States (not the mainstream charts, but underground ones) without thinking much if they like it or not, if the music is any good or not, or whether the music means a damn thing to someone sitting in beautiful Vienna.

But I should be careful what I write about FM4 – as I said, FM4 is very popular. They do contribute a lot to cultural happenings around Vienna with all kinds of promotions of clubs and releases of special compilation albums.

What do I listen to then? Osterreich Einz. Great talk shows and special reports and cultural news and great classical music with a midnight book reading every evening. But the Austrians are right about one thing – those are the only two conceivable choices on the Vienna radio dial. Austrian radio would be much poorer for the absence of FM4.

Zeebee came out of their studios and playlists to a cult following for her first album Tender in 2003. Then she disappeared for a couple of years while making her second album priorities which was released on Friday.

Zeebee played us a short set from priorities in the Rot Bar (in Volkstheater right next to Museumsquartier just outside the first district – great location).

The sound was catchy and engaging – it was just zeebee and her keyboardist. The show had a lot of panache – many songs of spurned love, much about independence.

be good to yourself
stop eating when you’re full
preserve the beauty
for times when you are angry

the time with yourself
is no luxury
these are my priorities
a simple life is all i need

Two problems. The volume gradually became too loud. When will people realise one can’t push speakers and amps to the breaking point without destroying the music with distortion?

Second problem was that too many of the songs sounded the same. Zeebee has this little girl raspy vocal style. Think of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. Which would be alright – except that a lot of the music reminds one of Portishead’s instrumentation and style as well. Too much. Much too much.

After listening to the CD a couple of times, there are a few outstanding songs but too much filler. It’s not a CD I can listen to straight through without pushing the skip track button four or five times (there are thirteen tracks). And all of it too much like ten year old Portishead. On the other hand, the music is well enough executed that a Portishead fan might be thrilled to get Zeebee’s Priorities into his or her hands.

Zeebee has a lot of style and her website is a wonder to behold full of great photography and some amazing photoshop work – according to the credits zeebee does a lot of both herself. Well worth a visit to take a look yourself and for a second opinion. A lot of reviews of her earlier work are posted there.


Viktoria Tolstoy

Tonight I managed to get out for the second half of the Viktoria Tolstoy concert over at Porgy and Bess, Vienna’s best musical club (mainly jazz but not only). Viktoria Tolstoy is a female jazz singer in the Rebekka Bakken mode. Tolstoy herself is a tall, fairly good woman with a good stage presence. Apparently she is a direct descendent of Leo Tolstoy’s son (also named Leo, who emigrated to Sweden).

The crowd went wild for her performance, bringing her out for something like four or five encores. What amazed me was the great work of her pianist Jakob Karlzon who occasionally hit the keyboard like a demon and sometimes light as an angel. The piano seemed to take on a whole life of its own. The bass player and drummer in the tight three man group also seemed to be enjoying playing together very much and each put in a good effort.

Viktoria Tolstoy has a very nice voice, smooth and velvety. She doesn’t have perfect pitch though. In normal singing, it’s not noticeable but occasionally Tolstoy catches one of her extended notes wrong and we have to suffer for about twenty seconds while she finds her way back to the instruments. It happened often enough to push things back from brilliant to very good.

Most remarkable though is that Viktoria Tolstoy’s singing is much like three or four other jazz divas (and it’s not a genre I spend a lot of time with) – it could be her ACT label mate Rebekka Bakken, or any of the others up there on stage if you just close your eyes singing,

I thought we were meant to be
Time has brought some changes
In love I feel alone
I thought it would last forever
But now I am standing all alone

But no one seems to mind when Jazz singers sound alike. All we care about is their individual delivery. The quality of their voice. The emotional intonation they can impart. It’s something like classical dance. All the ballerinas dance more or less the same steps, with more or less the same style (within any one national school). Yet some (myself) are happy to go back and see a bunch of different versions of the same Swan Lake or Gisele.

Many of the female vocalists in country music are indistinguishable as well, unless you are looking at them.

What I don’t understand is how we have so little tolerance of sonic resemblance in alternative and pop music. If something sounds too much like another group, it irritates. Zeebee is less like Portishead than Viktoria Tolstoy is like Rebekka Bakken, yet the resemblance is far more grating in the first case.

Viktoria Tolstoy was promoting her second album My Swedish Heart which is a tribute to something called Swedish jazz – when jazz first came to Sweden in the 1950’s and through the 60’s. It’s a silly title and I’ve listened to My Swedish Heart a couple of times and can tell you I don’t like Swedish jazz much. But her first album Shining on You, entirely composed by well known composer Esbjörn Svensson, is a much more coherent and stronger bit of work.

Viktoria Tolstoy’s version of “Things that Happen” is particularly moving. But generally on CD her whole performance has a superficial and commercial gloss which I don’t find at appealing. While the voices may be similar, there is whole lot more sincere emotion in Rebekka Bakken’s work.

Two derivative but strong singers, two genres, two totally different reactions. If anyone else has any ideas on why our standards for originality are so different for jazz vocalists and pop singers, please let me know.

Das Ballett der Wiener Staatsoper und Volksoper: Nicht nur Mozart

March 17th, 2006 § 0

With his Nicht nur Mozart, Wien Staastoper (Vienna State Opera) and Volksopera ballet director Gyula Harangozó has truly thrown down the gauntlet to Vienna, with very little Mozart and nary an Austrian choreographer in site.

Not just Mozart, as part of Vienna’s Mozart year is a very whimsical almost taunting title to a show. Vienna is celebrating its great homegrown hero, the man who did more to make Vienna famous with his music and his adventures than any before or since. There are other heroes here (Sissi, the tragically beautiful Kaiserin with a coke habit and romantic and almost bipolar depression; Falco the extravagant and earlier dead musician) but none travel as well abroad as dear Mozart.

Sechs Tanze: Iva-Rohlik & Gabor-Oberegger

What Mozart there is on the program is some very old stuff from Juri Kylian: Petite Morte (premiere Nederlands Dans Theater 1991) and Six Dances (premiere Nederlands Dans Theater 1986).

Both Petite Morte and Six Dances have been in the Staatsoper repertoire since April 2003 – an acquisition of outgoing ballet director Renato Zanella.

In apposition to Kylian’s classic but aging divertissements, director Hanzgozó has commissioned two new works Mokka and Tabula Rasa, with a heavy Hungarian influence (one choreographer; all the ballet masters; one costume designer). One feels that we don’t just have the ballet director of the Hungarian National Opera, but the whole Hungarian National Opera. If this is the reward for the role of junior partner in the Austro-Hungarian Empire for three hundred years, perhaps it is only justice.

Mokka tells the tale of five or six cafés, a few dozen couples, a lonely damsel. It is a self-contained cabaret evening. Dancing with stools, tables which appear and disappear. All the usual tricks, to a throaty soundtrack from Italian singer Paolo Conte.

When choreographer Myriam Naisy first heard composer Paolo Contes’s music, she imagined the glamour of the old Cinecittà film studios. With compatriot French designer Philippe Combeau, Mademoiselle Naisy is successful in evoking that atmosphere.

Mokka: Shoko Nakamura - Gregor Hatala
Mokka: Shoko Nakamura – Gregor Hatala

The costumes are shiny and satiny, flow over the dancers limbs like pearls. There are nice touches to the decoration like real chandeliers which come down, cups and saucers which magically appear in the dancers hands. Quite a bit of effort was devoted to the set changes. At one point Shoko Nakamura walks out of the set with a cup of coffee and sips it enticingly at the front of the stage. As she strolls towards the audience, the curtain comes down very fast. When she’s finished scant seconds later and turns back to the stage, the curtain comes up just as quickly to an entirely different stage set with dancers in different costumes. It happens as if in the blink of an eye and was like a magic trick.

This kind of attention to detail in the transitions makes a show go by quickly. While there was nothing particularly astonishing or memorable in the choreography, there was a pleasure in the movement. It was a feast of sentiment and ballroom dance. Something like a very nice and very large piece of chocolate cake. A guilty pleasure or not. A question of attitude. Normally this kind of cabaret performance is danced by second-tier dancers who don’t have the kind of training that a national ballet company have and perhaps not the talent.

Mokka: Emilia-Baranowicz

In this easier choreography, the Staatsoper dancers shone. They made the choreography sing with the apparent pleasure and ease with which they went through their numbers. It’s one of the first times, I’ve really enjoyed seeing the Staatsoper dancers at work and not been wondering how much better the ballet would if the Bolshoi, Marinsky or Paris Opera were at work instead.

Both leads, Dagmar Kronberger and Shoko Nakamura did well. Shoko Nakamura was the more engaging and fluid of the two, but Miss Kronberger did well in the role of the lonely damsel. She does seem to remain too much in her pose and in her role – alas no empathic waves to move an auditorium tears.

A second lady in black danced very well and very movingly but unfortunately I don’t have her name (Katherina Davydova of Russia).

Mokka received a spirited reception from the audience, allowing time for Myriam Naisy and Philippe Combeau to take multiple curtain calls with their performers. We were off to a good start.

Tabula Rasa was a stark change of pace. The curtain rose to a white stage (Mokka was all black) with a white ceiling and white banners rising up the sides of the stage. Arvo Pärt’s astringent score filled the theatre with bare strings and ethereal notions.

Twelve men and women came out in six couples in the most astonishing of undress. The women were in silk thin backless white dresses which stayed on in the most astonishing way (later when the lights came up one could see the natural colored backs, but it was a strong visual trick). The men wore a sort of long skirt/pants also all in white. The men’s torsos were absolutely bare. Very ancient Greek/Classical World. One imagines the tempo of Apollo.

These were costumes only for the most beautiful and most regularly proportioned of dancers. Merciless to imperfection. Whoever did the casting did a good job. All the dancers looked great.

The choreography was challenging and rewarding, including lifts, floorwork, elaborate holds and releases. Excellent stuff from young Hungarian choreographer András Lukaks – Mr. Lukaks is still dancing himself and has been engaged as a soloist in the Vienna State Opera by director Harangozó after a career in Budapest and Lyon.

There was a very strong solo by a small blonde dancer (Rebecca Gladstone of Austrialia via the Berlin Opera) at the beginning of Tabula Rasa, among all the other dancers. One wished that she had just a little more speed and reach and precision. One felt the very measurable difference again between the Paris Opèra (or Bolshoi Theater) and Vienna State Opera. When are they going to give these dancers proper classes and get them sharp? Is it something in the water in Vienna? Why are they not stronger and faster?

Tabula Rasa: Andras Lukaks
Tabula Rasa: Adrian Cunescu & Florian Hurler

The men’s costumes were very advantageous for Staastoper dancers. Their legs were covered and only the torsos visible. Generally (with perhaps two exceptions), the Staatsoper men have the spindliest and most underworked legs I’ve ever seen on soloists from a major company. With their legs covered, they were a far more convincing group. What are they doing at the Staatsoper? Skipping class to go work out at the gym?

Tabula Rasa told a tale of fragility and vulnerability.

Its culmination came in the gorgeous and moving duet between Adrian Cunescu and Florian Hurler. I am not normally partial to duets between men, but there was a rare sensitivity in their communication. The movement was imaginative and challenging. Wonderful.

The only critical thing I would say is that perhaps Tabula Rasa is a little bit too derivative of some of the white garbed Trisha Brown work at the Paris Opèra or some of the better Forsythe and Kylian work. A dedicated dance historian might catch András Lukáks out at plagiarism here. I would also wish that choreographer Lukáks might try some more challenging music. Of his nine major pieces, five are on Michael Nyman’s (film) music, one on Antoni Vivaldi, one on Léo Delibes, one on Philip Glass and now Tabula Rasa on Arvo Pärt. When you start with crowd pleasing music like this, you’re not taking very big risks.

Petite Mort: Wolfgang Grascher - Dagmar Kronberger
Petite Mort: Wolfgang Grascher – Dagmar Kronberger

Frankly I was bored by the Kylian pieces. The cutesy carryings on in wigs and white face, the tired questioning of gender rolls, it all speaks of the 1980’s. The pieces don’t have enough dance in them to really inspire. Perhaps it was just the strong pieces which preceded them.

Then again I much prefer complex emotion to trite laughter in dance and this was exactly the inverse.

In any case, director Harangozó after falling flat on his face with Tschaikowski Impressionen from protegé Ivan Cavilleri did well his third time out of the gate (Coppélia was fine but not spectacular in a very old staging from director Harangozó’s own father). Sadly, there were very few of the Austrian dance and choreographic world to see it this evening. Most choreographers and artistic directors chose to stay away after the deception of Tschaikowksi Impressionen. It looks like they will have to make the pilgrimage to Vienna at some point to see Nicht nur Mozart.

Mr. Harangozó’s directorship for all intents and purposes has been saved after shaky beginnings. Let’s hope we are headed in the right direction at last. Let’s hope those imported Hungarian ballet masters can whip the dancers into proper shape at last. Lots of reasons for optimism.

All photos by & © Dimo Dimov/Das Ballett der Wr. Staatsoper und Volksoper

Safety Issues with Wifi Radiation and with Monitors

March 14th, 2006 § 6

I’ve just banished (almost) wifi from my work environment. Bluetooth hangs on – I need it to be able to send SMS – I also occasionally use it for a wireless headset to use Skype on my PowerBook G4. And I’m very happy to have done so.

Recently the president of Lakehead University banned wifi from the campus network. I am glad to see that I am not the only one concerned about computer and wifi health issues.

I found an interesting weblog called Interface largely devoted to issues of computer safety and health. On wifi radiation:

While people claim wireless radiation is safe because of the low power levels that they use, they seem to forget that there are two ways to cook an egg on a gas stove, for illustration’s sake.

The first method is to use a high flame (high power), which does the obvious fast cooking.

The second method is to use a low flame (low power), which takes longer, but still cooks the egg.

Perhaps his most important point is the precautionary principle – while the negative health consequences of wifi have yet to be conclusively proved, why (pay to) make a guinea pig of oneself. Manufacturers and whole industries will lie and mislead in the quest for profits.

It seems that people have not learnt enough from the nicotine-addiction industry that has been denying health consequences from its lung-rotting sticks for decades.

It is interesting to note that cell phones are linked to an increased incidence of eye cancer. Think of your eyes like a pair of egg. The more radiation you apply to it, the better it “cooks.” Radiation is energy like heat

The author’s point about CRT Monitors refresh rates is mirrored perfectly in my own experience.

Many people are still using CRT monitors set at 60 Hz or 85 Hz around the world.

What they don’t realise is that these refresh levels have side-effects of inducing tiredness, yawning, short-sightedness and the most destructive of which is tooth grinding at night. Unstable images on a CRT can induce tooth grinding subsconciously at night, since an unstable flashing image is disturbing to the brain’s nervous system.

He misses the radiation issue with CRT monitors – there is a tremendous amount of magnetic and electric radiation from a computer – just like a television but you are much closer to the object. If you are still using a CRT monitor and you value your long-term health, an LCD monitor will be the best money you will ever spend. It is an investment against health issues and a general feeling of illness.

I’ve found that sitting an entire day in front of an LCD much less stressful to the organism. But one’s eyes can get very tired. To the point of making one’s existing prescription worse. Reading books doesn’t seem to do the same thing – at least not as quickly.

Apparently there is a good reason:LCDs and Eye Damage

LCDs actually create another problem. LCDs usually have a fluorescent backlight. Fluorescent lights both emit UV rays and HEV (high energy violet) rays…..HEV, which is also known as “blue light,” there is technology now used for sunglasses that is called melanin…..There is a convincing body of research that shows that blue light does damage the eyes and nowadays we are exposing ourselves to very high amounts of blue light, which significantly accounts for the increase in macular denegeration.

The author does go out on a limb trying to damn Blue LED’s. Personally I don’t spend a lot of time staring at the LED’s of either my computers or my electronic devices. I think he is on firmer ground with the Wifi issues and monitor display issues.

He could write a bit more about silent computing. The white noise of many computers is really not good for you. It is best combatted by buying a very quiet computer and using that most of the time. For my own work that means a very quiet primary computer (G4 laptop) with an additional high powered desktop for graphics and video work.

The Interface author’s weblog is hosted on which looks to be quite an interesting competitor to Typepad where my own weblog is hosted.

Out of the blackness of time comes…David Lee Roth

March 14th, 2006 § 0

Remember Van Halen?


Well I do. Lead singer David Lee Roth was referenced in an article I’m reading so I decided to check up on him. Apparently he’s done a dozen things since then, none of them to quite the same fame and fortune than his halycon Van Halen days.

His latest ongoing gig is as a radio host. But what is really shocking is that David Lee Roth now looks like my childhood Jewish dentist. Really. David Lee Roth. Time is marching on all of us. (Speaking of which the pictures of Slobodan Milosevic this year and in 1990 were a real shock as well. Whatever his crimes, Milosevic always looked hale and hearty. Not at the end.)

I suppose Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison were onto something. Those blokes died rock stars. Mick Jagger is somehow managing it as well – one begins to wonder about the early Sympathy for the Devil songs…did the man cut a deal with Satan to be able to maintain his energy and his voice in the face of massive drug and woman abuse? I mean, I understand our Tyrollian farmers and their Swiss neighbours remaining spry into their seventies, but how the hell does Jagger manage it.

In any case, not to take the spotlight away from David Lee Roth, it turns out he is quite a witty chap. There is a whole page of his bon mots at Wikipedia:

It’s not who wants to sleep with you; it’s who wants to sleep with you again.

After all these years of bright lights, I still don’t need glasses–I drink straight from the bottle.

I used to have a drug problem, but now I make enough money so that it’s not a problem anymore.

For some reason David Lee Roth is also doing double-duty on emergency ambulances as a paramedic. Good on you DLR! I much prefer the reincarnation to the original.

DJane Gaby at WUK

March 13th, 2006 § 1

The last good goaparty I went to was in February. This last while I’ve just been deluged with work. I took some pictures but not as many as I usually do. The decoration was fabulous at Fiat Lux! – Es werde Licht. People were wonderschön. Lots of friends and acquaintances.



The best set of the night was played by the beautiful and ethereal Gaby. What was amazing was as she played she danced, playing the music for herself and the crowd. It was almost like a live-set, she hit the mood so well.





I thought what a beautiful Austrian girl – no, DJane Gaby is Slovenian. Met another beautiful girl there as well her boyfriend. She turned out to be Ukrainian. Vienna the capital of beautiful women from elsewhere. I know more beautiful Polish, Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovakian, Serbian and Slovenian women here than Austrians.

I suppose nothing much has changed from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The standard of living is higher in Vienna and life is better organised here. So many people from the old Empire still continue to come through Vienna in a traditional pattern. The fall of the Empire is still less than a hundred years ago.



But the evening was not about beauty but music and light. And Gaby’s set flowed so high and far that when the curtain came down hard at 6am the publich was not too happy. The DJ’s had to hide for almost 15 minutes while the organisers worked on dispersing the crowd.

If you get the chance to attend a party where DJane Gaby is at the tables, it is an event not to be missed.

It was a very good thing that Gaby came on. The main event DJ of the night (might be her boyfriend from what I can tell – if so I hope Gaby gives him lessons on playing to a crowd) was a serious letdown. I’m not sure if it was Indika (Mexico) or Phenix (Austria). The music just drifted, not going up or down. No real goa feeling to float on. Just another techno/trance type evening. Lots of enjoyment to be had in the small room though.

There was an after party but I don’t have the force to go somewhere else at seven in the morning. Bed is too sweet. It was a beautiful sunny morning I remember. The day after pictures are actually sunset when I went out for a walk to Heldenplatz and then to Rathaus where I observed the Eistraum. For once, Toronto outdoes Vienna. For the rather cramped skating quarters at Rathaus, one had to pay something like 6 euros to skate. The skating rink at Nathan Philips Square is much bigger and it’s free.



Apparently there is fabulous skating on the Donaukanal. I missed it this year (a good icy skating day is a rotten day for cycling – next year I’ll just have to take the U-bahn).

I haven’t managed to hit the nightlife much for the last few weeks. It’s a combination of things. So much work. And also with the camera, it adds yet another task. I am also tired of all the smoke, both from cigarettes and smoke machines. Too many nights.

And instead of goa a whole lot of balls. Pictures to come shortly.

Vienna world capital of the Viennese Ball and of GoaTrance.

Buying RAM online in Europe: Computer Memory from Crucial

March 10th, 2006 § 1

I don’t know how many others out there have to deal with the annoyance of trying to buy computer memory in Europe. You get all of these great prices from North America but most of the companies won’t deliver outside North America. Those that do, charge ridiculous delivery fees ($33 and up). If they do send it, you face customs and paperwork on the receiving end.

When you try to shop locally for more obscure memory (as in the SO-DIMMs for an IBM T22), you face really high prices and/or limited availability. Specifically the 256MB stick of memory for my T22 can be had for as little $40 in North America. Vienna prices were about 90 euros if you could find it.

To the rescue Crucial. They have three websites. One for North America, another for the UK and a third one for Europe. My memory for the T22 delivered to my door in one day (not overnight but 36 hours) for 60 euros with lifetime warranty (for the original purchaser only). No customs, no paperwork. It’s easy to find the memory you want, be sure it’s exactly what you need, easy to make the purchase.

A great customer experience. Highly recommended. It’s wonderful when the web actually works – a company which actually gets it.

Web 2.0 Spam: Advanced Content Recycling | Manipulating Digg

March 4th, 2006 § 3

Looking for a perfect example of somebody using someone else’s old content and Web 2.0 tools to create a lot of buzz for themselves?

The guy over at which is just a two-month old weblog went through Jakob Nielsen’s old lists and a couple of other lists floating around out there and chose twelve items which web designers/owners are still doing.

Here’s just one example: Forms.

From Silicon Cloud’s 12 Ways to Irritate Your Visitors:

7) Unnecessary Questions – Ensure that the subscription form to your ezine or newsletter spam contains at least 36 questions more than needed. Why stop at the username and email address when you can ask them for information such as their mailing address and at least 3 different phone numbers (home, work and mobile). By adding other pointless questions such as age, sex, hobbies, religion and inside leg measurement is a sure-fire way to prevent people ordering your product or subscribing to your mailing list.

From Jakob Nielsen’s Top Ten Web Design Mistakes 2005:

7. Cumbersome Forms

People complained about numerous form-related problems. The basic issue? Forms are used too often on the Web and tend to be too big, featuring too many unnecessary questions and options. In the long run, we need more of an applications metaphor for Internet interaction design. For now, users are confronted by numerous forms and we must make each encounter as smooth as possible. There are five basic guidelines to this end:

  • Cut any questions that are not needed. For example, do you really need a salutation (Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss/etc.)?
  • Don’t make fields mandatory unless they truly are.
  • Support autofill to the max by avoiding unusual field labels (just use Name, Address, etc.).
  • Set the keyboard focus to the first field when the form is displayed. This saves a click.
  • Allow flexible input of phone numbers, credit card numbers, and the like. It’s easy to have the computer eliminate characters like parentheses and extra spaces. This is particularly important for elderly users, who tend to suffer when sites require data entry in unfamiliar formats. Why lose orders because a user prefers to enter a credit card number in nicely chunked, four-digit groups rather than an undifferentiated, error-prone blob of sixteen digits?

Forms that violate guidelines for internationalization got dinged by many overseas users. If entering a Canadian postal code generates an error message, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get very little business from Canada.

Frankly, Nielsen’s advice is far better and more detailed.

Anyway our friend Thomas over at Silicon Cloud, then went on to post his own linkbait article to Digg. It took. Far more interesting from an SEO perspective, than the recycled twelve errors is his own account of his Web 2.0 manipulation:

Step 1 was to post the article into the Digg site. This was fairly easy as we already had a Digg account. Once our article was in digg on the diggall list we sat back and watched what happened next. Quite quickly a few people ‘dugg’ the posting and within about 15 minutes the post had 10 diggs and appeared as the next level of popularity in the cloud view. Things were going well. All this was helped by the first comment received on the article which was almost as funny as the article itself. Thanks James.

I have to agree with reader James’s comment – the most annoying current practice on the web is to break long articles up into multiple pages, making it slower to read them and harder to reference them (i.e. over at Silicon Cloud). Why do commercial site owners do this? To increase the number of ad impressions and clickthrus. Strangely it has the opposite effect on me. I will avoid sites which will slow down and attack my browser or make me click through three or five pages (, anybody?) to read what is a 1000 word standard article.

For those actually interested in usability issues and the various plagues that site owners and web designers unleash on us the hapless users (instant remedy Firefox and AdBlock), here is a list of most of Jakob Nielsen’s top ten no-no lists. I’ve bolded the three that I find most useful and still actual (it includes one from 1997!).

Read Nielsen and weep. The errors of 1996 in large part, persist.

Takeaway lesson: Web 2.0 is doomed to fall to the spammers shortly if the ramparts are not built high. The number of trackback spam and blog spam I get even on is astonishing and a nuisance.

Spammers and cloakers – Web 2.0 has arrived – on your marks, get set, go.

* Thomas Clay is also the creator and owner of – another fine example of search engine manipulation – it’s a review site of best selling books only: Tom Clancy, Stephen King, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling – you get the drift. Thomas is holed up in the Cotswolds which is in the south of England. For some reason the Brits are a good deal better at more subtle and long lasting manipulation of search engine results. I attribute to the life-long vow of hypocrisy and dissembling which is British society. Manipulation of the social atmosphere just comes naturally.

My favorite SEO, Ammon Johns (where the hell is his website?) is a Brit. Why Ammon Johns? Ammon Johns is one of the most helpful people in the SEO world and he was one of the first to fix his attention on helping his clients market their business, rather than on pure rankings.