West Maui–June 2006

Cows Grazing West MauiWe went over to Oahu and stayed in Honolulu for a couple of days. When we came back we got a rental car and drove back to my friends’ house by going around West Maui. It was a one lane road for most of the trip. Unbelievable scenery. We spent more time out of the car looking at things than we did in the car.

Our strategy for the drive was to stop when we saw something cool or if we saw a “local” car pulled over somewhere. This worked out great–got to see a couple of really cool things that weren’t in any book we’d seen.

We drove counterclockwise around West Maui in order to end up at my friends’ house. For the first part of the drive we saw a couple of ecotour vans that were taking people on hikes, so we’d get out there and follow the trail. We saw some really nice waterfalls and there weren’t many people at all.

We’d later find out that West Maui isn’t nearly as traffic ridden as the road to Hana. As is true with most things, fewer people made it better.The picture to the left is probably the coolest spot we saw on the drive. There was a local car parked beside the road, so we jumped out and looked for a trail. It took a while for us to find the small little path to walk down, and we eventually had to climb down a bunch of rocks to get to the water.

To give some perspective, this photo was taken from the road. There’s a girl playing on the rocks while her dad fishes…can you see her?

The next day we took the Hana Highway, camped overnight, and drove all the way around Haleakala on the other side of Maui.

Part I (of many) on SEO, Google, and Content

I’ve been reading up a lot lately on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), marketing, monetizing a blog, sandboxes, traffic generation, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

From what I’ve read, what I feel in my gut, and what everything else I’ve done in life has taught me, I’ve come to a pretty simple conclusion–you gotta work for it, at least as far as content driven sites go. And just like everything else, if you put in the hard yards and take care of what you can control, the rest will take care of itself.

I’m doing a little experiment, which I’ll discuss in a seperate post, to determine how much a very targeted SEO strategy can help impact a site that is basically without content. In contrast, I also have this site (not an experiment), with I plan on providing an abundance of relavant, original content that is focused on, well, nothing in particular. As I said, more on that later.

I’m not saying it doesn’t pay to be smart about SEO and to be aware of the existence of search engines. You would be stupid not to use keywords that are relevant (the important word here is relevant) to your site, and it is probably worth your while to do some research into the most common searches that occur for your target market. But in the end, the free market will determine whether or not your site is successful, not Google. Why? Because not only is your site market driven, but Google is market driven itself!

Maybe I’m a simpleton who isn’t looking at all the angles, but here goes…

How Google’s Market Relates to Your Market

Google’s goal is to provide its customers with relevant search results. The reason Google is the top search engine, and the reason everyone wants a high Google ranking, is that it actually does a good job at achieving this goal. People’s trust in Google to give them what they are looking for was brought about by Google’s ability to sort through the junk and provide relavant results. Google’s continued dominance relies on being smart enough to know which sites deliver relevant content and which sites are simply trying to trick the user into visiting the site in hopes of selling them something they aren’t looking for. If Google fails to perform, someone else will jump in and provide this service.

That’s the beauty of the free market–if it is technologically possible, the demand will be met. In fact, the technology actually drives the demand in this case. So Google not only has to worry about providing their users with a quality product right now, but they also have to work to continue to provide a quality product in the future or risk being upended by someone with better technology who does a better job.

In other words, if Google’s search engine is dumb enough for you to trick it placing a crappy, irrelevant, get-rich-quick site high up the rankings, no one will want to use it anymore. If no one uses it anymore, what good is it for you to be ranked highly there? At that point, Google is no longer able to effectively connect you to your market.


FlexYourRights.org has an in depth description of Fourth Amendment rights regarding consent to search which states that most people don’t realize that police need probable cause to search your vehicle.

I think it is interesting how certain words and phrases are used to convey a message that they don’t really state. For instace, the phrase, “mind if I search your vehicle?”, while asking a question, actually has the connotation that there isn’t a choice in the matter. It’s like asking your buddy, “mind if I have a couple of these fries?” as you reach for them. Whether he minds or not, you are going to take them, and he knows this. Of course, he’s going to say “sure”. We are conditioned to think that we are obligated to say yes to any reasonable question that starts with, “do you mind if…”

I’ve actually been in this situation a couple of times. The funniest one occurred once coming home from my job washing dishes late at night. I was pulled over for driving 31 mph in a 35. I assume the officer thought I was using some type of substance I wasn’t supposed to be using since I was out late, had chest-length dreadlocks, and was driving below the speed limit. In actuality, my speedometer was spinning in a circle, and since I couldn’t tell how fast I was going, I always drove slowly just in case. I explained this to him and also noted that he’d been behind me for over two miles so I was being extra careful to drive below the speed limit.

After checking my license, the officer asked if I’d been drinking, to which I replied, “No sir. As you can see by my driver’s license, I’m not 21 yet…it’s illegal for me to drink.”

Admittedly, I probably didn’t go very far in getting him on my good side with that comment, but whatever. I’d been doing nothing wrong. Next came the inevitable, “mind if I search your car?”

He was pretty shocked when I informed him that yes, I did mind. He had no reason to think I was committing a crime. His next move, of course, was to threaten me with bringing out a dog in order to get probable cause. I told him to be my guest. I was finished working for the night and had nowhere to go and nothing to fear. He was obviously frustrated, but after a lecture about keeping my car in working order, he handed me my license and sent me on my way.

One thing I didn’t like about the tone of the article is that it sort of implies that police are somehow cheating the system by making you think you have to submit to a search. To me, it is the responsibility of the citizen to know their rights or to at least ask about them if they are not sure. The police do a tough and dangerous job, and I can’t really blame them for using people’s ignorance to help them perform their job more easily.

I Called This One a Looooong Time Ago

Google entering the corporate software market.  Actually this is a step toward what I’ve predicted will happen.  Currently, Google’s model is to host all of the information on their site.  Some companies will have an issue with this, which is reasonable. 

I’ve predicted Google’s ultimate objective will be to sell an appliance that runs inside the corporate intranet.  The hardware will be bought/leased from Google, and no corporate information will get past the company’s firewall.  Google will maintain and patch the appliance from Mountain View, so users will always have the most up to date versions with the latest patches.  This will free up IT departments to deal with other issues, like keeping Microsoft patched and secure.

The big gotcha here is that all the users need to run the software is a browser.  Enter simplified versions of opensource OS’s that do nothing but run a browser.  Google can take a big bite out of Microsoft, not necessarily by stealing market share, but by eliminating a large part of the office suite and operating system markets entirely.

A Very Sad Day

Just got news that a co-worker was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident this morning on Alcoa Highway. This hasn’t been confirmed by a news source yet, and a name has not been released.

It is quite a shock to us here, and horrible news. He was a really great guy, and I’m not just saying that. Always smiling, always friendly, always cracking jokes and making our job more enjoyable. In addition to working with him, I was lucky enough to get to share a few meals and laughs with him. I can honestly say I’ve never heard one negative thing about him from anyone. He will be sorely missed here.

It is sad when anyone passes, but it is even worse when that person is young and full of life.

Condolences to his family.


News sources aren’t reporting it, but it has been announced at work. A truly sad day.

Not in Keeping, But…

ThumbsuckerThere’s no way I could not post a picture of the little one to be. We have a video too, which we were able to get onto a DVD, but I don’t have a way to rip the video into .avi at home. Hopefully I can get that done soon.

My Buddy at the Klan Rally

Yesterday a friend of mine posted on his MySpace blog a story about attending a KKK rally in Newport, TN a few years ago on MLK Day. My buddy isn’t a KKK supporter in any way. He was there more for the circus atmosphere than anything. As he says, it is fun to see stupid people doing stupid things.

His post describes how the Klan chose Newport because the town was unable to pass restriction on them in time to prevent the issuance of a permit. The rally ended up being relegated to a small area near the courthouse surrounded by the police for the Klan’s protection. Apparently, it was difficult to hear the spout any of their nonsense from outside the barricades due to the drumming of the hippies who’d gathered to protest the protest, or whatever.

I was thinking about the many levels of injustice that were present in this situation, and how one of the biggest benefits of free speech was probably never even intended. Free speech gives absolute idiots the opportunity to expose themselves for what they really are.

I’m too lazy to look it up, but I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

All of the cities and towns that “successfully” blocked the Klan denied their citizens the opportunity to find out what they believe and decide for themselves. The hippies that drummed them out of earshot did the same, and became an annoyance in and of themselves.

Wouldn’t a better approach be to have someone with an opposing view (and the courage to espouse it without hiding their identity) present a different set of ideas? Are we afraid that people are so ignorant that they can no longer tell a good idea from a bad one?