Friday, April 30, 2004

Google IPO

Well, what do you know? The prediction that Google would come out with it's IPO disclosures by April 30 turned out to be correct.

Now the question is how will the sale take place? Forbes seems to think the price will be too high"

"The frenzy, however, creates a real possibility that investors will overpay for Google shares, though the company is profitable and might have years of growth to come."

Because of the way the IPO is going to be done (sort of eBay-like, but more Dutch auction like), there is a real chance the offering will be over priced. That means those who bid successfully could be stuck. On the other hand, think about Microsoft:

"If an investor bought $10,000 worth of Microsoft stock when it came public in 1986, that investor would be sitting on more than $3.5 million as of Friday's close."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Ten steps to marketing with b-blogs

Say, what is a b-blog, anyway? I may have just made that up, but I'm simply talking about business blogs. Rich Ottum has an interesting piece on WebProNews about how "business weblogs are not rocket science."

Yep, it's true. Business blogs are subject to the same common-sense rules that apply to all blogging. Past the fundamentals, you get into some real differences. The basic difference being that business blogs are intended to promote a business.

But back to the fundamentals. Of the ten steps, my favorite is something we stress over and over for new bloggers:

6--Keep it Simple: Leave the Flash introductions to ad agency websites. Keep your weblog graphic design simple. Use color and images sparingly, and focus on readable text. Use categories, and make your archives easy to search. Use a template or an experienced designer to accomplish simplicity.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

What happened to Google's IPO?

A few months ago, you couldn't go anywhere on the Internet without running into speculation about the Google IPO. Google, which is a private company, was to score billions in a public offering --somewhere between $8 and $25 billion, depending on who you wanted to believe.

Google managed to play all this very close to it's non-corporate vest.

So, what's happening now? Some new speculation has it that Google will be making a public announcement this week. It seems that under some obscure securities law, Google might be forced to make some public disclosures about its internal affairs. This could be the case, so goes the speculation, because they have enough capital, and the requisite number of shareholders, to force the disclosures by April 29. Further speculating, if they have to make these disclosures anyway, why not do it as part of a public offering?

It's an interesting theory and you can read more about it at

Friday, April 23, 2004

Too many toolbars?

What happens when you get carried away with using toolbars on your browser? pc4media tried it out and got this result:

As you can see, it is possible to get carried away with toolbars. As pointed out, most toolbars tend to be "Me-Too" things without much to recommend them.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Rachel and the Nitty Gritty

Sometimes you have to go to extremes to find really cool and/or funny things. Sometimes they're right under your nose. Rachel of Rachel and the City is a frequent visitor here at Blogger Forum, but we had no idea about the woman inside the woman. Allow me to explain.

Rachel posts that she has decided to take out a personal ad rather than to continue to whine about coming up short in the dating department. Now, is the ad real, or is this a Rachel joke? Judge for yourself and get ready for some side-splitting honesty. A selection from Rachel's list of self-professed shortcomings:

"I AM CHEAP. Yes, I expect a man to be a freaking MAN and offer to pay for shit. Sure, I might not take you up on it, but then again, I might. And guys who wait and watch for me to take out my own wallet before they'll take out theirs when the check comes are cheap f**king bastards. On TOP of that, if I offer to pay for something and you f**king LET me... why don't you just f**king move back in with your parents and just mooch off of them for eternity and leave the rest of us women and our wallets alone."

OK, here's my synopsis: Rachel is HONEST and is tired of GAME PLAYING. So, put things on the table and let's get it on. No guesswork going into a relationship --it's perfect.

Thanks to How Did You Find That, cuz I never would have noticed this.

I'm assuming Rachel won't mind us bumping this up a notch in the public eye. After all, the more audience you have, the more applause you might get.

Gmail available for Blogger users only

Nice little touch for Blogger users: Google is making the beta version of Gmail available for users of Blogger.

If you didn't get an email about this from Blogger, then look at your Blogger main page for an invitation. There should be an invitation if you're a registered Blogger user: "As an active Blogger user, we would like to invite you to be one of the first to try out Google's new email service, Gmail."

Rumor has it that the prospect of getting Gmail is so appealing that many are signing up with Blogger just to get the Gmail invite.

Caution, other comments we have seen indicate that the invitation may be a once only deal. If you bail out of the sign-up, you may not get a second chance. Also, it seems that not every invitation is accepted.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Review of toolbars

Hardly an in-depth review of the various toolbars available, but interesting for a fast comparison.

The Porterville, CA Recorder takes a quick look at eleven of the currently available browser toolbars. "What I like best about the Yahoo toolbar is its portability. Settings are stored online, so you can customize it or add bookmarks wherever you are."

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Blog Wishlist Manifesto

We want to blog better. We want blog tools that help us, not get in our way.

In a few words, we want to: Create --> Connect --> Community --> Conserve

In a recent thread on the Bloggercon weblog, Dave Winer posed a question: "Question: What's next in writing tools for weblogs?". Well over a hundred responses came in. After printing out and reading through the 40+ pages of responses, a few major themes began to emerge. Bloggers wanted to create more easily, connect with others fluidly, create and manage communities around their weblog and throughout the blogosphere, and conserve their content. --Lisa Williams (via Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog)

When you look at what bloggers want, you see where the trends are. This is exactly what the blog platforms should be looking at. I doubt if Blogger will pay much attention (the "big" guys tend to be slow to accept trends), but Squarespace and many of the cutting-edge developers will definitely be looking at this type of input.

So, when bloggers fill in a wish list, and when Lisa Williams and some others go through all of this to condense things into a single, good post, you gotta love it. We should all thank her for the work.

Here's a parting quote from her post:

They are always reading, seeing, and hearing new things and want to share that with others. Bloggers want to discover what's good and show it some respect by linking to it. Even when a blogger disagrees with something they come across, by linking bloggers express a forthright willingness to criticise openly rather than whispering behind someone's back or having a concealed contempt. To a greater extent than the mass media, bloggers are willing to engage with people who don't share their views and are willing to have their minds changed by new information.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The weakness of A9 -and Google

Well Amazon has released it's search engine. It's called A9 and is, basically, Google with soothing colors.

I don't mean to put it down completely, but you have to ask the question: "What's the point?"

Take a look at it and judge for yourself. Try any search in Google. Try the same search in A9. What are the results? Exactly the same. A9 even has a toolbar available that blocks pop-ups, provides a history, and --wait a minute, just think Google toolbar and you'll have the idea.

While we're comparing apples to apples, try this: search on "blogging tips" and see what gem both engines put as #1. It's a lame BlogSpot blog with one entry that was posted last August. The blog site is called "blogging tips" --duh.

It says nothing. It provides nothing. Google gives it a ranking of 6.

I'll go further. It's a flat-out plagiarism of the same "blogging tips" that appears everywhere. Yet Google (and A9) think this single blog that contains no content whatsoever is "very important"?

Oh brother. I don't know why I ever pay any attention whatsoever to what Google thinks about anything. The A9 "me-too" just makes it more evident that Google needs to spend some time re-thinking whether it is a search engine or an ad platform.

Have some more fun with Blogging Tips. Take the first couple of lines from Tip #1 ("Choose an updating tool that is easy to use. Try out several services.") from this number 1 rated site and Google it. What comes up number 1? This does: Blogger Forum

Monday, April 12, 2004

Notes from Fallujah

Blogging live (or almost live) from Fallujah in Iraq is Rahul Mahajan. His blog, Empire Notes, shows what a blog can be as an alternative to the mainstream media. In essence, one man's opinion from down on the street.

Here's a quote from today:

To repeat what I said earlier in different words: in hindsight, people may well realize this is potentially as transformative a week for the world as was the week of 9/11. It's unravelling a bit slower and we are much more distracted with other issues. But any accommodative solution to the occupation is virtually impossible -- it wasn't just a few weeks ago. U.S. intent on staying and, therefore, it is determined to "pacify" Iraq. It is no longer possible for Iraqi politicians to preserve even the appearance of semi-legitimacy and accommodate the United States.

It's getting dark now and I am out of here.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Will MS force RSS standards?

It's an interesting question. At this point you have Atom going against several flavors of RSS. Right now there are no real killer apps that take advantage of syndication. Sure, blogs use it. But other than Yahoo, there isn't much point in the mainstream getting too excited about the controversy. Some standardization need to happen.

Rick Bruner, president, Executive Summary Consulting, agrees. "It comes down to what Microsoft does with it. Longhorn is expected to come with an RSS reader. At that point, it could go mainstream--it could become a viable ad medium then," Bruner says. --Mediapost

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Gmail attacked from all sides

It wasn't like you couldn't see this coming. Google's proposed email service, called Gmail, is under attack long before it even has become a reality.

Here are the expected complaints, most if not all of which involve privacy:

"Gmail will offer users a gigabyte of online storage, enough that they will never need to delete another message, according to the service's Web site. Indeed, the Gmail privacy policy warns that messages, even if 'deleted,' may still be stored in the system long after users have closed their account--something that bothers the privacy campaigners." --PCWorld

I guess so. That idea would bother me too. It's bad enough trying to be careful of what you say in email, but having your email conversations indexed and stored where they can't be deleted isn't too great an idea.

Here is the unexpected complaint: the word "Gmail" is already trademarked by another company. OOPS, what was Google thinking?

"Following Google's use of the name Gmail in a press release, financial service provider The Market Age PLC (TMA) registered its interest in the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the British company says in a news release. TMA launched a Web-based e-mail service called Gmail in mid-2002 as part of an online share price and currency exchange rate analysis service offered by subsidiary Pronet, it says. Pronet's Gmail allows subscribers to annotate stock price charts and forward them by e-mail. The company is seeking advice on how to protect its intellectual property, it says." --PCWorld

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The nitty-gritty of Atom and RSS

If you want to get into the real differences between Atom and RSS, just go to Mark Pilgrim's new article for XML.COM.

This is the best article I've seen to explain what the controversy is all about. Not from a political view, but a programmer's view. An example:

The other problem is that there is no way to know whether an entry's description is being used as a summary or as full content. Atom solves this problem by simply defining separate summary and content elements, and Atom feeds generally contain one or the other (although mine includes both, which is also valid).

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Blogger in a Box?

With Google coming out with Gmail, things may be falling into place with the thinking behind Google's purchase of Blogger.

Take a look at this for some insight on where Google is going with knowing and tracking the Internet habits of everyone. Then go on to Phil Wolff's Blog where he fills in the details. I won't bother repeating anything because it is good enough for you to go there and read the full post. Trust me on this.

The final thought on this: "By the way if Microsoft should 'beware' of a company it should be Google..."

Unavailable for comment

Love this little jab from Best of the Web Today talking about a speech by Ted Kennedy:

Kennedy said, "This president has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon." And: "He has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people."

Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Interview with Movable Type founders

One of the original and still one of the best of the blog platforms is Movable Type. There's an excellent interview with Mena and Ben Trott, founders of Six-Apart, in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

The value of blogs, and the basis by which the Trotts have built their business around the development of a blog-creation system called Movable Type, is in the shared community one enters when becoming a blogger.

Take a look. It's really interesting to see how a twenty-something married couple turned an idea into a blog platform. Of course, if you know anything about them, you also know that:

After tweaking their business model, they decided they wanted to focus on consumers. Six Apart unveiled the first version of TypePad, a pay-for-blogging tool built upon the Movable Type system, in April of 2003. Around the same time they closed their first round of venture capital funding.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Blogging gene discovered

What drives a person to blog? Turns out that some people are pre-disposed to blog --Born To Blog could be their motto.

This discovery was revealed today by the Register, the British equivalent to Scientific American. If the Register states that something is scientific fact, then it must be so in the same sense that an Alabama county school board concluded that evolution is a "theory" held in disrepute by most scientists. But I digress.

Webloggers are born not made, and shouldn't be persecuted. The activity could be a positive, group-bonding social function such as grooming, or simply a harmless way of passing the time, such as masturbation.

In sifting through the blog data, scientists were first puzzled by one method bloggers use for social interaction. Something the scientists first believed was called "arse feeding" but later discovered was more likely called "RSS feeds". The exact purpose of Arse or "RSS" feeds remains a mystery.

Wonkette shows how to break into political blogging

Breaking into the tight circle of well-read political blogs has go to be the equivalent of stuffing a pimento back into an olive: 1) It's hard to do, and 2) why would you want to anyway? There's a lesson here to be learned. If you want to start a blog that gets read, be prepared to find a niche nobody else has exploited, or do whatever the others are doing, but more so. Take the Wonkette, for example:

The arrival of - and its rising notoriety here - signals that even a serious town like Washington (where rumor serves a purpose but gossip is somehow disdained) can capitulate to Hollywood-style tittle tattle. To those who fear the erosion of serious journalism, the wonkette's arrival on the steps of the Capitol is a quiet victory for creeping National Enquirer values. It is also another example of the boundary-busting powers of the Internet, where writers like to be less deferential to authority, more saucy, and frankly less accurate than established print or television. --News Obvserver

The Wonkette is Ana Marie Cox, a 31 year-old redhead from Nebraska. So, how does she take the same old hash and make it taste different? "She's fun and fresh and right on the money - and is writing what others think but can't always write. ... She can curse, for example."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Searching "porn" with Google local

We pointed out before that Google now has a local option. We also pointed out it was in Beta, but it's beginning to look like there are a few kinks.

Ernie the Attorney told me that when he searches "porn" with Google Local in his part of the world (New Orleans), it comes up with lawyers. He invited me to try for myself.

I tried it in my neck of the woods and sure enough, a search on "porn" got a list of all the lawyers in my zip code. Even more interesting was what happens when you search on "porno." The number one search return on Google Local for "porno" was this:

Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge

Is this some weird form of Google Bashing? That would be a bit hard to do. It really seems more like some extreme tweaking needs to be done to the Google search algorithms currently being used in the Google Local Beta version. Or maybe Google is making some political statement? Naw, Google isn't into politics as far as I know. Maybe the Googlers just have some deep-seated grudge against lawyers and the church.

Try a few searches in your own area. Try "porn" and then "porno" with your own zip code. What do you get? Lawyers or the Catholic Church? Leave a comment on what turns up where you live.

Google goes email

What tha hey? Google is starting an email service? Looks like they made a list of everything that is wrong, wrong, wrong with MS and Yahoo and went where they needed to go. From the Gmail site:

Gmail is an experiment in a new kind of webmail, built on the idea that you should never have to delete mail and you should always be able to find the message you want. The key features are:

Search, don't sort. Use Google search to find the exact message you want, no matter when it was sent or received.

Don't throw anything away. 1000 megabytes of free storage so you'll never need to delete another message.

Keep it all in context. Each message is grouped with all its replies and displayed as a conversation.

No pop-up ads. No banners. You see only relevant text ads and links to related web pages of interest.