Microsoft to Buy Yahoo!?

From the WSJ:

The offer, $31 a share in cash and stock, is a 62% premium to Thursday’s closing price. Microsoft said Yahoo holders would be able to trade their shares for cash or 0.9509 Microsoft shares a piece, with no more than half of the overall purchase price paid in cash.

Seems too good for Yahoo! shareholders to pass up. What would it mean for us?

It could have a big affect on bloggers and site owners. Currently Google dominates the pay per click advertising market with AdSense. Microsoft getting control of Yahoo’s advertising network could mean a higher payout for publishers and maybe even some transparency in just what percentage of the cost of an ad a site owner is paid for a click. Currently, there is no market force to compel Google to pay out higher rates or to disclose their payout percentages.

Microsoft can actually afford to operate a division at a loss for a while in order to change the market. For proof, look no further than Internet Explorer and the X-Box.

Of course, Google could always counter with an even better offer. It’s a good time to hold Yahoo! stock, huh?

Ron Paul’s Next Move

Ron Paul’s campaign is at a serious crossroads. This time last week he was armed with a treasure chest full of cash, an army of enthusiastic supporters, and even though he hadn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the Republican nomination, a third party run was looking promising.

This time next week, he may have nothing left but the cash.

His refusal to name the author of the controversial statements that appeared in his newsletters has many of his supporters questioning his candidacy.

So what should he do to fix this problem? I’ve spent the last couple of days up in the attic drinking absinthe and analyzing this problem with my political genius, and I think I’ve found the answer.

If I were him, I’d start by asking my supporters to just chill for a minute.

From what I’ve been reading, they seem to be the only people who are making a big deal out of it. The mainstream media, who we’ve all complained from day one are out to get him, have more or less given him a pass on this. It’s already blown over with everyone except for his supporters, who seem hell bent on imploding.

Does the sky always have to be falling? No one thinks he wrote or believes any of the racist stuff in the newsletters. Those who say they do are only saying so for political reasons.

Just let it go. You didn’t see Bill Clinton’s supporters in 1992 and 1996 demanding a list of all the chicks he’d banged, did you?

Chavez Brokers Deal For Hostages

From the Christian Science Monitor, two higher priority hostages have been released, and others may be forthcoming. The article doesn’t say what Chavez offered to secure their release.

Interesting. Show of hands–who here thinks Chavez promised FARC something juicy (hmm…what could a militant group want?) in return for making him look like a hero and undermining Colombia’s current administration?

Uribe had little choice but to allow the fiery leftist leader – who’s called him a “puppet” and “lapdog” of Washington – to organize a new mission, but demanded it be done discreetly and “with respect for the Colombian government.”

The Missus is Colombian, but has lived in the U.S. since she was a child and has limited knowledge about what goes on there. We’re encouraging her dad to start blogging, mostly as a way to get him to document all the great stories he has about growing up in the middle of the jungle in Colombia and the vast knowledge he has of the history and culture. We had a very short discussion over Christmas about this very situation. He has a lot of insight, and I wish we could have talked about it a little more or I’d have had a little less to drink :). No worries though, I’ve already sent an email asking for his comments, and with his permission I’ll post his response.

But at the same time, according to observers, Colombia could see an increase in FARC attacks throughout the country. “They will try to demonstrate that despite the setback and despite their willingness to release hostages, they are still powerful,” says Mr. Bagley.

It’s really too bad that most of what we hear about Colombia in the U.S. leads to the conclusion that there are kidnappers on every corner and snipers on every roof waiting to pick off any gringo that may stumble by. I’ve only visited once, but everyone I encountered was extremely friendly and anxious to dispell that myth. There was never a time when I didn’t feel completely safe. Admittedly, I was in a city the whole time. The mountains and jungles are more treacherous, even for Colombians. That’s unfortunate as well, because from everything I’ve seen in photos and heard from people who have been, these areas are absolutely beautiful.

***UPDATE–Here’s the response my father-in-law sent on how he surmises the situation

The situation that has presented to the world through the media is real, however the conclusions drawn from this is completely unreal.
Since the previous liberation attempt was a complete disaster to Chavez they had to come through with something to save face, especially when the FARC admitted that the Colombian President was stating the truth about the child, while at the same time Chavez was blaming the Colombians for the intermission in the liberation process . All the political representatives had egg on their face with this backfire to Chavez .

1. Fact : The leftist guerrillas are under direct control of foreign governments, Cuba.
2. Fact : Chavez is the apparent heir of Fidel.
3. Fact : This was a complete publicity stunt in favor of the guerrillas with the leftist figures to give it a political backing to the guerrillas showing a human side which they do not have.
4. Fact : The Colombian government was pressured into this farce by the French and European community which are looking to obtain the freedom of Ingrid Betancourt, freedom that will not happen for now. She is a big ace that the guerrillas hold for their advantage. She might be used in the next publicity stunt concocted in Cuba to further the Chavez agenda in Latin America.
5. Fact : This was a complete washing of Chavez ‘s face by the guerrillas through the orders of the puppet master ” Fidel Castro”

My Ideal News, uh, Thingy

I’m not affiliated with and don’t have any knowledge of the newspaper business. You could make the case that this doesn’t make my opinion worth much, but if you consider the performance over the last few years of people who do know the business, maybe doing something different warrants some consideration.

Jack Lail has been posting recently about possible new ways to calculate compensation for journalists, and in a post today hit on something:

At my newspaper, we have been distributing daily top 10 lists of articles based on page views to the entire newsroom for a year or more. The lists are not used for compensation and do seem to provide instant market insights about what readers found interesting.

The way I see it, newspapers, for now, are positioned to provide three things that are at a high premium and that most blogs/bloggers can’t deliver. I think most would be wise to capitalize on these by shifting the state of mind from being a newspaper to becoming a news organization/outlet/center:

Excellent writing
Not just good writing. For now, newspapers have a large market share of excellent writers. That’s a part of the market I’d want to keep. Let the good writers go if you have to, but keep the excellent writers around. That means paying them well. If you don’t, you will eventually lose the excellent writers to their own endeavors, and you’ll be stuck with nothing but good writers. Good writing is nice, but it doesn’t make you much more special that the thousands of independent blogs that feature above average writers.

Investigative journalism
The time, resources, and energy it takes to dig (and dig, and dig) for a story set newspapers and real journalists apart from everyone else. Give us more stories that take time to develop. Give us stories that, in short, no one else can. In most cases, that would mean increased concentration on local news, and pulling back on stories happening elsewhere. And sports? Please. The account of a football game that was attended by 100,000 people, viewed by millions, and opined about (real time) on countless message boards and blogs has little value the day after the event. Does it sell copies? I’m sure of it. Does it sell as many copies as it did 10 years ago? I’d guess probably not, per capita. And if you’re now going to count web clicks instead of copies, newspaper web sites definitely don’t have the market share that the print version of the paper had 10 years ago. It doesn’t seem like a good place for resources long term. It may be time to start scaling back or redirecting resources.

Being community hubs
Newspapers have a huge asset that takes years to create–name recognition in their local markets. It makes sense to capitalize on that by being first to that market with resources that connect the community. Instead of viewing local bloggers as competitors and hacks, find a way to leverage them as a way to drive traffic. Become the place that the community uses to find local blogs. The bad news? It’s may already be too late. In my local market, the News Sentinel caught on remarkably early, and even goes so far as to feature bloggers on the front page of their web site on the weekends and has built a community aggregator. In other markets, it has taken a while, and links to other sites and blogs still aren’t featured or easy to find. As a result, other organizations have stepped up and are trying to fill the void left by what should have been the logical market owner.

It is great to see some newspapers are catching on and are willing to try something new or go in a different direction. At the same time, it’s frustrating to see the industry as a whole belly aching about its problems. Face the facts–not only are the rules of the game changing rapidly, but the game itself is evolving.

I mean, this isn’t the record industry. You guys may actually have to change.

The Wire and The Press

Last night we watched the first episode of season 5 of The Wire, and it is already shaping up to be very interesting. This season is focusing heavily on the newsroom of The Baltimore Sun and how news is sorted and reported. The best quote so far is, “I wonder what it’s like to work for a real newspaper,” which is ironically the same thing said about the Baltimore Police Department in season 3.

All we know of the newsroom so far is that staff has been cut by the parent corporation in Chicago, and the older guys who can actually write (“you don’t want to say that people were evacuated”) are being pushed out in favor of young kids who see the Sun only as a stopping point on their way to The Times or The Post.

One thing I’ve noticed about The Wire is that it exposes the fact that every profession they’ve examined is made up of people that basically fit into the same categories. There are always people who only care about their stats, the people that are there to do the minimum to get the paycheck, the ones who are only interested in furthering their careers, and the ones who do the job because it is a part of who they are and only want to do their best work. So far this has held true for police, politicians, teachers, drug dealers, thieves, and sometimes drug addicts.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the newsroom.

Poker South Florida Style

The day after Christmas Bear Toe and I drove up to Dania from Miami to check out the Dania Jai Alai and Poker Palace (or whatever it is called). Our buddy BGE lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and he said this was the place to play. The poker room there is a decent size–probably 20 tables, but most of them weren’t used while we were there.

They run a tournament at 3:00 pm daily, and I signed up for that. It’s a $5 entry, winner take all. 2000 units, 50/100 blinds starting out, with increases every 15 minutes. While I was waiting for the tourney I sat down at a cash table–$1/$2 no limit hold ’em with $100 MAX buy-in . After about 10 minutes at that table, I wished I hadn’t bothered with the tournament.

It seems like there were two types of players there, pretty good and pretty bad, and the split was about half and half. I noticed when the tournament started that the pretty good guys at my table didn’t play in it, and the pretty bad guys did. I decided to just push all in every chance I got to possibly double up and get back to the cash table. There were 60 player in the tournament, and I wasn’t about to sit there for 3 hours for a chance at only $300, especially when there was easy money bleeding into the cash games from guys getting put out of the tourney. If I could pile up chips early, fine. If not, fine too. I think I was the 8th or 9th person put out. I think the wise locals show up just to pick off guys as they are put out of the tourney.

The rest of the day was pretty productive. My chip stack was swinging, but not too wildly and always trending up. As I built it, I’d open up a little and give guys action, hoping they’d stick around. By 10:30 I’d built it up to ~$700. Not bad for buying in at $100. My mistake was not leaving at that point. The poker room closed at 12:00, and people started getting really crazy as closing drew near. It worked out well for Bear Toe who won the final pot of the night (everyone involved pushed all-in) for about $500. I got caught with middle pair post flop countless times and was a little to liberal in giving other guys action.

I ended up leaving with $575 and a newly learned lesson courtesy of one of the pretty good players. It only cost me $65 for him to show me a big gaping hole in my game–pretty cheap!

Overall, a decent poker room. There wasn’t really any variety of games. A 7 card stud game was going on when we got there, but it ended and everything went to $1/$2 NL hold ’em. The dealers were fine on the whole. A couple were excellent, and one in particular was horrible. There were a couple of rules that some players had a problem with, but I didn’t think they were too out of line. For instance, if you show cards before the showdown your hand is automatically mucked. The service was not all that great, but I wasn’t there to drink and eat, so that wasn’t a big deal either.

I can’t wait to go back next year with a little knowledge going in!

Let’s Hook Up!

If you are any one of these social networks, feel free to look me up and add me to your network or favorite me, whichever the case may be. If you see some here that you aren’t using yet, I’ve given a really quick synopsis of what they are and why you’d use them.


View blog authority

Technorati–probably the biggest blog directory and networking site.
My username there is ‘beefstooge’. I have a couple of active blogs listed there (including this one) and a couple of projects that are in the works. On Technorati, you “favorite” other blogs. They also have some great widgets you can use on your blog.


Digg!
Digg
I call this a social news filter. People nominate, or “Digg”, stories they like, and if other people like them they can Digg them as well, increasing the value of the story. Posts with high Digg counts are considered important and get displayed on the front page. Sort of a free market for the news. My name there is, you guessed it, ‘sadcox’. If you blog about something that is popular with Digg readers, be sure to submit it. This will result in a steady stream of traffic for some time to come.

Del.icio.us
I use del.icio.us as my primary bookmarking mechanism. Unlike bookmarking in your browswer, you can tag a bookmark into as many categories as you like. The other advantage is that you can reach them from anywhere, not just your computer. You are also able to tag stories for other people in your network. Read something you think I may like? Tag it as for:sadcox, and I’ll be sure to read it.

StumbleUpon Sadcox.StumbleUpon.com
Stumbleupon is just plain fun, but also a great way to drive traffic to your site. Using their browser toolbar, you can “stumble” onto great sites that other people have liked (you can choose to stumble only your friends’ favorites as well). For site owners, loads of traffic can result from a good stumble. My Stumbleupon address is sadcox.stumbleupon.com.

Twitter
My username there is ‘sadcox’. This one is great for quick-hit ideas or “tweeting” live events like debates, ball games, etc.

Blog Catalog–Blogger’s network and directory.
My username there is ‘sadcox’. Connect with other bloggers, build your network, and get widgets to display on your site.

MyBlogLog–Blogger’s network and directory
My username there is ‘sadcox’. Very similar to BlogCatalog. They were recently acquired by Yahoo!, so you can use your Yahoo! account to sign up.

There are countless other networking sites out there, but these are some of the bigger ones for bloggers and surfers. If there’s one I missed that you want to hook up on, let me know.

Amazon’s Kindle — I Don’t Get It (Yet)

Amazon launched its new ebook reader this week, and while I can definitely see the value in owning one, I think I have to pass for now.  The big obstacle for me?  The price.

$400 is pretty expensive, even though the gadget is cool.  Amazon is footing the bill for their reader’s connectivity to the Amazon ebookstore, which is nice, but they are still charging for the books.  I would be much more likely to buy one of these if it came with some free downloads, at least 15 or 20.  Seth Godin wanted to give his books away with each reader, but Amazon balked at the idea.  For me, that could have been the justification I was looking for.

I’m still tempted, because something like this is perfect for me.  I’m always reading 4 or 5 different books at the same time, and it would be great to be able to take them all with me on one little device.  This one is billed as being able to hold 200 titles.  Also, it would be great to use when traveling for the holidays.  Nice features like reading blogs through RSS and a built in music player make it a little harder to resist.

I’ll probably end up waiting for the third generation of these things before I commit to buying one.  I’ve already been burned by first generation mp3 players and digital cameras.  The price will drop and the products will get better.  I’d also like to hold one in my hands befre I throw down the money.  Still, a really cool idea, and this is the direction everything is going anyway.

Numerous Results and Micro Pimping

I thought I’d go ahead and address several things in one post–recent scientific polls, Christmas shopping, and my numerous (un)successful endeavors.

First Annual Backlink Drive–a resounding success. I picked up a link from it (thanks Ivy!).

Rico/Suave–by a majority of eleven to four, many more of you are “suave” than “rico”. Gerardo respects and appreciates that, and in your honor has removed his extensions and his shirt.

BlogRush update–I’ve come to the conclusion that the absolute best way to use Blogrush is to feed it a single post that you know will attract some traffic. My CTR has gone up considerably since I’ve implemented this strategy by itself. I also received a link from a PR4 site regarding my current Blogrush post. So what if the guy completely disagreed with me? I ended up with a nice link and some good traffic from his site.


Earn $$ with WidgetBucks!
Again, I’m not running Widgetbucks ads on this site, but I am running it on another one where it is outperforming Adsense. The CTR is slightly higher, and the PPC is much higher. Granted, these are somewhat targeted ads on a niche site, but it’s working pretty well.

Amazon Christmas Banner–for those of you who do your gift shopping through Amazon, please consider stopping by here first and clicking through my little banner. I’m working on a couple of product reviews for some things I’ve bought over the past year that would make good gifts.

Hell Yeah I Follow!

ifollowgrey.gifFor quite a while I’ve been meaning to install the DoFollow plugin, and today I actually took the 30 seconds to do it. The whole idea behind this plugin is that it causes search engines to consider the link created in comments as a “real” link.

What does that mean to you? When you leave a comment on this blog with a link to your site/blog, search engines will actually follow the link back to your site (more juice for your blog). That usually doesn’t happen, as WordPress puts a “nofollow” tag around your site link when you leave a comment.

What does that mean for me? Probably not much. It will hopefully encourage you to leave comments here, and you’ll be rewarded if you do.

By the way, thanks to Randa Clay for the button design. All I had to do was change the color–cool!