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Showing posts from June, 2007

Blog tips, images and ad revenue...

I ended up on Seth Godin's blog again earlier today, and stumbled on two really great posts he has about blogging.

The first: a call for everyone to blog.
The second: tips on how to get people to come to your site.

I accidentally seem to have discovered one more: add pictures to your site. I had AdSense on this site from the the very beginning. In the first two months I made a grand total of about 40 cents. Then I started adding pictures to the site (just to keep the posts more interesting.) Two things happened

traffic almost tripled/quadrupled; most of the traffic to the site now comes from, in other words people actually searching for images that I happen to have linked off my site.
AdSense revenue went up: I made all of 2 dollars last month. :) In other words even this seemingly unrelated, and theoretically uninterested, traffic does result in click-throughs and a potential revenue opportunity.I've often heard people in the online marketing space say stuff li…

Quick Review: "Ratatouille" and "Live Free or Die Hard"

1 day, 2 great movies.:)

I can't think of a single Pixar movie I haven't really enjoyed. I also can't think of a single Pixar movie that I've enjoyed more than Ratatouille; that should really say it all, n'est ce pas?

Live Free or Die Hard

This one was an adrenaline rush. It never slows down. All the one-liners work. The action scenes are completely, ridiculously, totally over-the-top. Its faithful to the "villain-distracting-us-with-catastrophe-to-steal-some-money"-ness of the Die Hard franchise (Wow! Thats a lot of dashes.)

Quick review: Watchmen

I can't remember the last time I couldn't put a book down, and just had to finish it. Actually I can, but I'm not particularly proud that the book was the first Harry Potter book (read between 10pm and 4am just after I'd finished college :)) Lately, I've fallen into the bad habit of reading 3-4 books at the same time on and off.

So, I think it says something about the quality of the book that I decided to pick it up from the UChicago library sometime yesterday afternoon, started reading it a little bit after that, and between dinner, a little TV-time and sleep, finished it today morning. The book is the graphic novel (yes, it was a comic book!), Watchmen by Alan Moore. I'm pretty sure I only picked it up because I found out that it was the only graphic novel in Time's 100 greatest novels since 1923,

I was blown away. The grandness of the overall plot and idea, the comic tragedy of an organization of superheros, the frailty of each of the characters and what …

Ah..the movie catchphrase.

I enjoyed this article over on Slate about movie catchphrases, more specifically about John McLane's particularly memorable one.

Die Hard 2 was the first in the series that I saw, almost 14-15 years ago, and I couldn't get that line or the scene that follows, where Bruce Willis with a flick of his wrist drops his lighter on trail of leaking airplane fuel blowing up the villains' plane, (yeah!) out of my head.

I can't believe I haven't seen 4 yet! Must... fix... tomorrow.

YouTube, TV and Politics.

Clearly, politicians in the US discovered YouTube a long time ago. They've used it very effectively , and very ineffectively, to peddle/propogate their messages. The Economist has a brief write-up on it as well. Caveat emptor: I can't claim to know too much about US politics and certainly am not an active follower.

However, two new political-ish videos caught my attention, because I thought they're different and may indicate a new level of Internet video-savvy. So far, the political videos I remember seeing fall into two categories:
the first is the simple "Listen to me" variety. This is just the candidate sitting/standing/walking around delivering a message.
The second was the "look what happened" variety; typically another event that the candidate (or his/her supporters) want to draw attention to. Think the Michael J. Fox controversy and the macaca controversy.
This was content that would have worked just fine even on television. The only difference was …

The Second Time Around

After seeing Wicked last month, I couldn't help thinking that my parents (particularly my mom) who'd be visiting, would really enjoy it. Within an hour of being in Chicago, my mother brought up that she'd heard about Wicked and The Color Purple, so we booked tickets the next day.

I thought they needed context to be able to enjoy the story, so we rented The Wizard of Oz, the night before. My mom made me pick up The Devil Wears Prada as well. As a result, I did something that I haven't in a while. Guiltlessly paid for, and sat down to enjoy, art for a second time.

One rule I've informally followed for a very, very long time is to try to never repeat watching a movie, a TV show or even reading a (fiction) book. The somewhat iffy logic has been that the time could be better spent learning something new, enjoying something different or just more productively. After b-school, I know enough to characterize this as the opportunity cost argument.

I realize that this really ma…

Muscle memory: geeky, but cool

There are moments when the you realize that you're always going to be a geek, and you're still pretty stoked about it. Yesterday offered me one such moment.

Despite all my plans over the last year or so to get back to programming a little bit, it has just never happened. A combination of being incredibly busy and almost as lazy ensured that.:)
However, a need to keep myself occupied over the summer and curiosity about if the Facebook platform is really as easy to program to as advertised meant I finally got around to writing some code again. Big surprise: not doing something for two years will leave you rusty! Particularly if its web programming, which you never really did anyway.

Some things still stay constant though; like the time you need to waste up front to prepare so that you can actually get some work done! It took me more than a day and a half to (re-) install the necessary software on my machine, figure out the particular eccentricities of the web-hosting provider I de…

Why search is (still) hard.

Techmeme led me to this write up on ReadWriteWeb.
The write-up is a summary of a talk titled "Search is a Hard Problem" given by Udi Manber, a VP of Engineering at Google.

The article confirms that the devil is still in the details. Two little things from the article struck me:

The query pre-processing being attempted even before the search is run: I knew Google did little things like stripping out articles from search strings, playing with participles/prefixes/suffixed and tenses to deliver better results, but I didn't realize they did stuff like this:

"For example, Google understands that 'GM' stands for 'General Motors', while 'GM foods' is actually 'genetically modified.' If you search for 'B&B AB', Google knows that is 'bed and breakfast in Alberta', while 'Ramstein AB' is 'Ramstein Airbase'."

The localization that is already part of the search engine. That is typing in "governmen…

Quick Reviews: Evan, the Surfer and Jhoom:

There is a common theme in all the films below. The reviewers hated em and I have no idea why. None of em is great, or even close to it, but they're pretty good and better than a lot of stuff I've seen thats much more positively reviewed.

Evan Almighty
Steve Carrell is great. No one else plays "naive dude in an awkward situation" better, and this role has him playing a little less naive and the situations much more awkward. The movie doesn't try to make profound statements, but the laughs work, the story is uncomplicated, the characters extremely sympathetic and the final message warm and fuzzy. What's not to like?
I just don't understand why all the reviewers hated it so much. I looked at all their complaints about the film and disagree with most of em.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
This movie is apparently better than the first, which isn't saying much because the the first Fantastic 4 movie was reviewed so negatively I didn't even bothe…

Facebook: aging pains?

John Battelle has a post today titled: Facebook: the next Google?
The article goes on about how Facebook, could be "That company." The next great company coming up. If my Facebook usage and appreciation levels are anything to by, the article could be bang on. Time will tell, and I'll be watching with great (certainly personal, but given the field I'm going to be in perhaps even professional?) interest.

However, this reminded me of something I wanted to write about Facebook a while back. Facebook is trying to grow. By starting Facebook Regions, a while back they moved beyond just high schools and colleges (and their alumni) to include a broader audience. Looking at the Compete data below, the move (in September) clearly seems to have worked. Their opening up their platform to outside developers is just brilliant, and so far has been extremely well-executed.

However, with this growth will come a whole new set of customers and a whole new set of expectations; some of whi…

I have a new browser!

The browser wars get a little more interesting.
I've been using Safari on Windows for the last couple of days, and I think I'm ready to use it as my primary browser (at least for a bit.) Though I'll still need to regularly keep using Firefox for a while because plug-ins will be a problem.

Why did Apple decide to release a browser for Windows? This artice on Infoworld summarizes the strategic issues well. Basically, Apple has an opportunity to make Safari a platform for development across devices (computers, iPhone, eventually other devices?)  and making this available to as many people as possible, as early as possible makes the most sense. 1 million downloads in a few days is a pretty good start.
Why did I decide to use Safari? The fonts: Joel describes the differences in fonts and font philosophies really well. Bottom line: I really like the smaller, more diffused fonts. For me, they make the webpages more elegant and easier to read.The speed: Yup, definitely seems faster for…

Computers are like a dynamo?

Its been a while since I've visited the Slate, so I've missed reading the Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist.
I really enjoyed this article, about the troubles involved in the evolution of technology. Concluding excerpt below:

"Companies do not do well if they spend a lot of money on IT projects unless they also radically reorganize to take advantage of the technology. The rewards of success are huge, but the chance of failure is high. That may explain why big IT projects so often fail, and why companies nevertheless keep trying to introduce them."


My GSBclassmates andfriends havealready said it, and said it much better than I can, but Faisal's point was the one I found myself agreeing with the most. The MBA is a unique educational experience in that altering your behavior and view of the world is part of the brief, and I've certainly experienced that, and its been for the better, and has made a world of a difference.

The hope is that I can translate this into a meaningful difference both professionally and personally.

The obligatory snap avec family et degree below.

Aw c' is not an acceptable marketing strategy!..or is it?

Redmond, seriously. At first you just really disappointed me with this, but maybe I missed something. The "i'm making a difference" campaign basically promises to give a portion of advertising revenue from targeted ads to a few large, worthy charitable causes. Users of Windows Live can even identify themselves as being aligned with a particular charity.

My first reaction was amusement to mild annoyance at the marketing. My knee-jerk reaction was that this was a stupid way for MSN to gain share in a market it was probably not doing well. I didn't think it appealed to too many people (they seem to target tweens/teens) and wasn't sustainable. It just seemed kinda cheesy too.

But a quick look at IM stats, indicates that MSN actually does really well in the instant message market on the PC. So this is a way to increase share in what is quite a mature market (i.e. the best case is that its growing at the rate of the population) and to catch em young. In marketing terms, …

Quick review: Ocean's 13

Caught the flick yesterday. Was better than 12. A little clunky in a couple of parts, but overall a lot of fun.

Its a star-power driven vehicle and they have fun with it. The con is predictably complex, as is the turn in the end. I can never really take the character development angle in these flicks seriously, but it kept me reasonably entertained.

Hatred is funny, but still hurts.

Sigh... its been a while since I've felt discriminated against; certainly in my last two years in Chicago I've never felt that way.
That changed yesterday and my reaction disappointed me. Here's what happened:

My parents are in town and we were walking down Michigan Avenue after buying tickets to Wicked. As we were walking towards Wacker Drive, we saw a street performer who had finished his days work and was walking back, coming up the street. My mom, dressed in a sari, asked me discreetly why we were seeing a completely silver man coming up the street. As I quietly explained, and just as this man was crossing us, he looked at us and said pretty loudly:
"Your @#$@ing Hindu Gods are not the way."

The people behind us just laughed, and we just kept walking on.

I'm not completely sure if my Dad or mom heard (or understood because of his accent) what he said. As for me, it took me a couple of seconds to regain my composure. There are a number of ways to look at this. …

Vendors at WalMart

The thing about business school is that at weird times you brain will suddenly switch to trying to apply school concepts to the real world, and you end up learning some pretty interesting things as a side-effect. My parents are in town, which meant yesterday involved a frantic trip to on the largest importer in the US to acquire some household supplies.

It seems like every MBA in the US has done at least one case on WalMart, and you end up learning about its tremendous buyer power, unique (and recently changed) market positioning, how its competitive strategy/advantage evolved, and mostly about its ridiculously efficient supply chain.

I wandered about recognizing some these patterns that I'd learned about, when for some reason I ended up striking a conversation with an elderly lady who seemed to be working in the greeting card section of the store. It turns out she didn't work for WalMart at all, but for Hallmark.

She was just a Hallmark vendor who stocked card in the two aisles…

Quick review and article.

I loved Knocked Up: really funny, but still kinda sweet. The tone is very much 40-year old virgin, but slightly sharper, and with a greater emotional payoff. Unnecessary trivia: the lead actor was co-producer for both the movies above, and also a writer on the Ali G show.

Also just started Dreaming in Code. I'm not sure what prompted me to go and pick it up from the library, but its fun so far.

Also, wrote my final ChiBus article last week; got more comments for this one than the usual...expected I guess given the sappy tone and the content.:)

White lies or skewed perception?

Scrubs isn't just one way I'm wasting time this week, now that I'm done with finals. It also got me thinking about a discussion I was in a couple of days ago.

Ask most people about something their going through or own or have recently experienced, for example: "How's the job going?", "How's the school that you went to?", "How're things?", and most times even if things aren't going well, you'll get "Great!"

Now, there's one theory which is
The person just doesn't know you well/doesn't feel like talking to you, and "great" results in a shorter conversation than "oh, not so great."I'm guilty of using this once in a while. But let's say you know the person well, the response is still more negative than the experience is in the person's mind. Why is it?

My initial take on it was
People think that their experiences are a reflection on them, and hence always want to paint a much mo…

The search for people-powered search

Mahalo debuted yesterday, with some fanfare.
I approve of the flowers and the cute UI, but I'm still trying to decide what I think of the rest of the business plan.

Now, in my deservedly humble opinion using the power of crowd-sourcing for search is interesting, which is what the Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales is pursuing. On the other hand, I'm still mystified by the value proposition of Mahalo. I'm not sure why 40 to a 100 people building webpages manually (realistically they're probably using some automatically generated templates and tweaking them slightly: one for movies, another for organizatoins etc.) are going to produce really interesting results. According to the WSJ article, management think that because "some of them work as artists, musicians and artists" they'll be able to build better web pages. Maybe if they stick to their area of expertise...but then won't their pages will be biased by their interests?...unless they stick to a template?…

Yet another political quiz

The usual procrastination ploys led me Prof. Greg Mankiw's ridiculously frequently updated blog, and this political quiz, which tells you where you are on the political scale.

The test (like any of this sort) has to be a little simplistic, but apparently I'm strongly libertarian and just a little bit to the left. I share the "libertarian left" label with Gandhi and Mandela so, yea!

Wow, two years at Univ of Chicago and a recently indocrinated belief in free markets....and a test still pegs my economic proclivities mildly to the left; don't understand it and kinda sad.:)