Google Profiling Technology |

May 19th, 2007 § 0

Google’s patents are getting scarier and scarier:

The patent says: “User dialogue (eg from role playing games, simulation games, etc) may be used to characterise the user (eg literate, profane, blunt or polite, quiet etc). Also, user play may be used to characterise the user (eg cautious, risk-taker, aggressive, non-confrontational, stealthy, honest, cooperative, uncooperative, etc).”

Sue Charman of online campaign Open Rights Group said….

“Whenever you have large amounts of information it becomes attractive to people – we’ve already seen the American federal government going to court over data from companies including Google.”

And no I wouldn’t want to be giving my profile out to Google or any other corporation.

I could easily see this information as being open to subpoena, even hidden subpoena.

I try to use Google not logged in these days. It looks like we might have to go back to the days of regular cookie dumping.

Alas, those of us on fixed IP’s (not massive corporate firewall) can be pretty tightly profiled just off of IP.

The total information that Google owns about most of us is scary stuff.

  • what we search for
  • what sites we own/manage (AdWords, Analytics)
  • at least part of our financial records (AdWords/AdSense)
  • our weblogs (for those using blogger)
  • what videos we watch (YouTube)

Add personality profiling to this – and you’ve just entered the Matrix.

Nod to Threadwatch: Google Profiling Technology.

Reality call to What’s with the puff piece on Future Media Architects?

April 8th, 2007 § 0

I’ve been doing some domain research lately for One of the great sources of information for the domain industry is an online publication called DNJournal which does a weekly roundup of the top domains sales.

Very useful information. DNJournal also publish a number of interviews with top domainers (people whose primary economic activity is buying and selling domain names).

Reality call to What's with the puff piece on Future Media Architects? Continues »

Looking for a robust Toronto based proxy

April 5th, 2007 § 0

Just put up a long writeup on proxy guidelines. over on

If anybody has a robust Toronto based proxy I could use, I am still looking.

I would like the Toronto proxy to work with both Google and Yahoo search.

SeoBook – Aaron Wall’s PDF woes properly formatting an eBook

April 5th, 2007 § 0

I have a few projects to turn into special reports or even books. I want these documents:

  • to look good
  • to include clickable links which work in both Acrobat and Mac OS X preview
  • to be navigatable from the table of contents and/or index

The only PDF I’ve ever owned which got all of these things right (apart from a couple of manuals from Apple for high end programs like Final Cut Pro – if Apple couldn’t get it right for a $1000 application there’d be no hope) – is Aaron Wall’s SeoBook.

SEOBook is the best selling and best book on SEO. What’s great about SEOBook is that is based on real world experience and Aaron has no particular axe to grind in favour of any single SEO technique. A lot of the other books about SEO are written by either programmers or people selling SEO software or link building networks.

The other good thing about SEOBook are the attractive green graphics and professional appearance of the document.

Not only does Aaron’s SEOBook look great bit it is fully navigable. Aaron has added a great index as well. SeoBook is basically the ideal PDF book.

So I turned to Aaron to get instruction on how to easily create such a great PDF document, by doing a search on his weblog at

SeoBook - Aaron Wall's PDF woes properly formatting an eBook Continues »

Turn Flash Off in OS X: NoScript for Firefox and SafariBlock for Safari

January 10th, 2007 § 10

One of the banes of the modern web are Flash advertisements. They are popping up all over the place, from the New York Times to our beloved I have nothing against advertising but I don’t like anything which makes it impossible to read or difficult to work on one’s computer.

I’ve been searching for a way to easily turn flash off yet keep my computer stable. With the amount of Flash video turning up on the web, I am not as tempted as I used to be to just rip the Flash code right out of my plugin folder.

In any case, for work reasons, I have to keep Flash around just to see what other people are doing with their sites.

Until two weeks ago, I still hadn’t found anything lightweight to kill Flash in either Safari or Firefox, my two primary browsers. But good things come in twos. There are two great plugins to kill Flash, one for Firefox and one for Safari.

Amazingly enough, neither have destabilised my browser.

Minus the flashing lights and used car salesman in the side bars, I might even start liking the web again.

Turn Flash Off in OS X: NoScript for Firefox and SafariBlock for Safari Continues »

Styling Images in WordPress

October 7th, 2006 § 0

There’s some good advice on styling images in WordPress over on Pearson’s Cutline Theme*.

I’m glad you asked! Cutline has been constructed so that images that do not have classes applied to them will still be styled. In fact, they’ll receive the same styling as any image that receives the right class, meaning that the image will be right-aligned with a frame. Oh, and text will wrap around the image, just like it does here. See? You don’t even have to go out of your way to be fancy with Cutline, and that’s how we like it.
Update: As of September 28th, 2006, Cutline has been revised so that unstyled images no longer receive default styling. This is a move that I hated to make on many fronts, but I also realize that it’s just really inconvenient to have every image styled by default.

It’s not that tough to add a class to an image tag however. I much prefer my system built on wrapping the image in an h5 tag, and styling the h5. Here’s an example.

Anne Schmitt

Why? This way you can add centred captions to your image.

Syntax is h5 > a href > img > close a href > br > text > close h5.

CSS for the above is:

div.entry h5 {font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal;
margin: 0; padding: 0; margin-left: 4px; text-align: center; clear: both;}

h5 img {}

div.entry h5 a, div.entry h5 a:visited, div.entry h5 a:hover
{text-decoration: none; color: black;}

Highly recommended.

*Unlike most people, I actually really dislike this theme and find it quite primitive. I suppose that makes it a better starting point for somebody wishing to build something more sophisticated.

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.

SEO: WebCEO review

November 27th, 2005 § 27

Introduction: WebCEO

review updated 1 June 2007 to cover current services and software status!

This is a comprehensive review of the full version of WebCEO 5.6, a.k.a. the Professional edition. There are two other versions of WebCEO, a Small Business edition and a Free Edition. The distinctions between different WebCEO versions can be found on this page. Basically, the Free Version can’t do much while the Small Business and Professional Edition are almost indistinguishable. The Professional Edition makes creating self-branded reports easier and spiders the anchor text from backlinks.

SEO: WebCEO review Continues »