Trusting Slate’s server logs

More on opening the kimono, this time from Slate magazine. Want to understand how Slate thinks it has 8 million uniques a month, while the two Web rating services show about half that? An interesting analysis and explanation to be sure from Paul Boutin.

[T]he more I realize people in other media are in denial. Internet publishing is the most finely measurable medium ever invented; broadcast, movie, and print companies have no way of monitoring individual transactions from their end. Yet, while the Web guys admit they could be off by half, Nielsen claims its television ratings have a margin of error of 4 percent. If I were in the cast of Arrested Development, I'd demand a recount.

The Microsoft iPod

In my quest for finding office space, I have been visiting numerous businesses in the area in the attempt to find a shared office. And while I haven’t found anything that appealing yet, it has made me get out of the house and at least see some pretty cool offices.

Last week, I was in a computer consulting firm in Venice that had all of the original 1980-era Macs on display, supposedly in working order. They were lined up on top of their very nice big screen TV system and made for a great conversation piece.

I thought about this after seeing this wonderful parody video that answers the musical question what would Microsoft do for its iPod box design. Apple still gets consumer packaging and design better than anyone else. Well, their newest boom box might be an exception.

Mashups galore

No, I didn’t go to Mashup Camp, much as I would have liked. But if you missed the festivities of having people proud of their APIs trying to get 20-somethings interested in building apps for them, then take a gander over yonder at this amazing listing of mashups.

What’s a mashup you might ask? In music/podcasting terms, it is when someone combines multiple songs together for a mixture of something new. In Web terms, you take multiple programming interfaces and produce something unique, like a way to display a map of used cars in your ‘hood that meet your specs, or bands that are playing at nearby clubs. All done within the comfort and safety of your Web browser. No small animals were harmed during the creation of this movie. And safe for families too.

Why marketing matters

I spent some time with Marcia Kadanoff of Firewhite this week and loved the fact that she was not only a very smart gal but also moonlights as her home CIO. When I came by she was telling her hubby what was wrong with their home network, while whipping out the Web browser to add access for my laptop. I have to admit, I got a little hot.

And check out this post on why marketing matters even more. These days when companies are being created right and left with little regard for how to capture and retain customers, it is time to go into the Wayback machine and remember those first marketing principles.

You have heard of iTunes, now there is iMom

In today’s LA Times, a representative from HP is quoted as saying:

"Digital photography used to be male-dominated; all images ended up in cameras and on hard drives and the guy would take care of it," said Larry Lesley, HP's SVP of digital photography and entertainment services. "Now it is shifting to the iMom who used to drop off film then do shopping. She's taking back control of the family memories."

The story talks about a new kiosk computer from HP that will go into drug stores around California soon to enable people to print their digital photos.

Now, it so happens I was in a Wolf Camera store this week, getting a battery for my bike computer. A woman in front of me was getting her passport photo, and I noticed the process. First the clerk took her picture with a digital camera. Then he took the media out of the camera and placed it in a kiosk in the store and printed the pictures. The kiosk had about 17 different slots for various digital media, and a CD burner too. It was a nice setup, and it took no time to get the photo printed and the woman on her way.

So these kiosks are already out there. It sure will help get those photos off the hard drives of the world and onto paper, where they then can be filed away in shoeboxes just like the analog prints of old.

Certainly, Apple has done more than anyone to make things easier: you just plug the camera in, and iPhoto takes care of the rest. And there are several solutions on the Windows side, including (which is OEM’ed to HP, BTW). But it will be interesting to see if HP can recapture the balance of power over who owns the digital family photo assets. The problem, like so much of digital photography, isn’t about the tech. It is about family politics.

Now, I am just one silly user in this arena, but my digital assets are a mess. Part of the problem is that both my wife and I have changed so many computers over the past couple of years that we can’t keep track of things. Part is that we use both Windows and Mac PCs, and have photos on both (the Mac works much better but my wife is a Windows gal). And part is just inertia — this is a project for a rainy weekend, but we live in LA where we don’t usually have too many rainy weekends.

No amount of software is going to help us get organized. But I love the fact that guys at HP are targeting the iMoms of the world.

Trust too: Yahoo Interfaces

Last week Yahoo posted this blog.. They say:

“[It is] the companion blog for two libraries we’re proudly releasing today. The new Yahoo! Design Pattern Library offers our thinking on common interface design issues for traditional and rich Internet applications. The new Yahoo! User Interface Library is a collection of industrial-grade JavaScript utilities and widgets that enable you to efficiently get the most out of today’s powerful browsers. In both cases, these are the exact same things that power Yahoo! today.”

Kudos to them. They need to be more open than Google, more forthcoming on their APIs than Microsoft, and to start working more closely with Web developers. It is a good step.

An interesting URL, that of What is it all about? is showing you their internal server logs, what is up and what is down. I bet it won’t take long until someone creates a Google map mashup of the historical stats. (Right now you just get a summary page for each day’s performance, along with links to days that something went wrong with more explanation.)

Kudos to them for doing this, and showing their inner workings. I wish more Web sites were equally forthcoming.

New Trends in Search at the New Communications Fourm

I will be moderating a panel session at the Palo Alto Sheraton on March 2 with this title. You can go here and find out more about the conference.

We will look at various trends in the search area, including what is going on with searching blogs and podcasts, search engine optimization, the recent deal between BearingPoint and Google, and integrating search into the desktop. Here are the powerpoint slides for the session.

It should be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the conference.

My panel will include:

  • John Cass is director of blogging strategies for Backbone Media (, a 10 year old search engine optimization company. His blog is called Blog Survey.
  • Rob Key is CEO of Converseon (, a search and communications management company.
  • Stephan Spencer is the founder and president of Netconcepts, a search engine optimization agency.
  • Ross Weinstein is Director of Business Development at Ingenio (, a pay-per-call Web to phone vendor.

Two new worthy Lexmark printers

With all the new printers on the market, it is hard to rise above the fray. Two from Lexmark caught my eye, and in my preliminary tests I give them both high marks. They do very different things, but both are worthy of mention here because of their connectivity options.

The first is one is the $200 P450 photo printer, and it is notable because of what it doesn’t have: a printer cable! Instead, it comes with plenty of other connection options: a CD-burner and various slots to put USB and card media in it. You can copy photos from the removable media and burn CDs, or make 4×6 prints. It takes about three minutes to get a photo-quality print out. It has a tiny LCD screen that has pretty simple menus to navigate around and make your prints.

My initial tests grabbing photos from a Mac were frustrating, and I am not sure that I solved the problem by upgrading to Tiger 10.4 OS. But it now works just fine, taking pictures from a camera directly or by transferring them from either a Mac or a Windows PC via a USB key drive. If you have a lot of digital photos and just want to make a batch of prints, this is the printer for you.

The second printer is the $150 E120n mono laser. What makes this printer noteworthy is that it includes a 10/100 Ethernet print server. I remember the days (and they weren’t all that long ago) when just the print server cost this much. Setup for the printer took all of about 10 minutes, and that included installing the drivers from the CD and unpacking the unit. I also remember when installing Lexmark network print server drivers took the better part of an afternoon, running back and forth from printer to PC, and grabbing different pieces of software to get everything working. Those days are gone: the E120n was a snap to run off either Mac or Windows.

If you aren’t using a mono laser printer at home because of inertia, and you are tired of switching the USB cable between a bunch of PCs and paying through the nose for ink jet cartridges, this is one to look at. It even comes with a built-in Web server to monitor its status and can email you messages when low on toner, something you can impress your friends and neighbors with.

Email systems I have known and discarded

Mike Krieger at Z-D and I have had a series of amusing emails recalling all the various email systems down through the years that we have known, used, and abused. He goes back to the dawn of connected email with IBM mainframe systems PROFS and DISOSS. When I was first living in LA, Mike was an SE for IBM midrange systems and we both used these beasts.

Here are a few other systems to jog your memories this morning:

Easymail (AT&T)
Radiomail (precursor to BlackBerries)
The Source

Not to mention all the various BBS’s that were floating around back then. And speaking of BBS, you might want to take a look at this movie here.