He’s Ba-ack!

EJ’s Damn Sexy Morality Void has finally been updated. I ran into him Sunday and there are a ton of new stories that he could post. The question–when will he? Unfortunately, he can’t spell or punctuate all that well, but he has a way with words that is rivaled only by his way with women.

she asks me on a date. i say yes so we go into another room for our date.

How romantic.

My 2007 Year in Review

Unlike everyone else, I slacked off and waited until 2008 was officially here to do my review. 2007 was my first year of full on blogging. I’d messed around here and there with different blogs before, but 2007 was the year I drank the Kool Aid and went at it for real. I’ll keep this list confined to what occurred on this blog. You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m somewhat guarded about the personal life. Enough about me…here are my thoughts on my 10 most notable posts of 2007:

Ron Paul’s Presidential Run
At times it seemed to me that Ron Paul news was taking over this blog. On one hand I feel like I need to apologize for that, but on the other hand, it’s my blog and that’s what I was interested in. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who was excited by Dr. Paul’s message, and I hopefully played a small part in helping him get elected. More on that later this year, as I have some thoughts on what is realistic, and what is for the best.

Knox County Scandals
There were more in 2007 than I can even count. That makes you wonder how much stuff is going on that we haven’t even heard about yet. Last week I saw a t-shirt that read, “Miami: A sunny place for shady people.” Knox County seems to have the market cornered on shadiness this year.

Steroids in Sports (and Non-Sports)
My bottom line–WHO CARES? Next topic.

People Getting Nekkid and Almost Nekkid
I got a ton of traffic this year writing articles about Vanessa Hudgens, along with a couple of articles about the Inskip teacher who had arguably inappropriate photos on MySpace. I don’t really care who gets naked and takes photos of it, I just wonder how people can do that and not retain ALL digital copies of the material. Idiots.

Barbie Cummings and the Highway Patrol
This was just a funny local story that ended up causing me to exceed my bandwidth when it went national and I ended up ranking #3 on Google for “Barbie Cummings Blog”. Since then, Ms. Cummings life has apparently changed dramatically, much for the better. How do I know that? I’m resourceful, and it didn’t take much digging anyway. Nevertheless, it seems like she wants to leave that part of her life behind her, so I think it’s time this story finally died and went away, never to be mentioned here again.

Tennessee Smoking Ban
Thank you to our state’s elected leaders for writing and enforcing personal choice laws on private property. If you really want to look out for me and mine, stop wasting our tax dollars on this crap. Next thing you know we’re going to have to provide health care for people who would’ve otherwise died if you’d not spent millions trying to keep them from smoking.

Buddies Blogging
Some people I know IRL also started blogs this year. It’s funny that you can go months or years without talking or emailing with someone, and this medium puts you in the position to “converse” with them every day. Even when it isn’t dialog, you read what they write and they read what you write. Very cool. Not to mention the countless other blogs I’ve begun to read that I never would have learned about if I’d not started blogging for real this year.

The War On Education
Also known as the public school system. I feel like I don’t spend enough time or energy talking about this because I think it’s the number one problem facing our country. Solutions are anything but clear and simple, but one thing I’m very excited about for this coming year is that I’ve got an idea that may help a little, at least for individuals. I’m finishing up some other projects, and then I’m going at it full force.

Blogging About Blogging
As I said, 2007 was my first year blogging full throttle, and boy did I learn a lot. I posted a ton of stuff about monetizing, driving traffic, building networks, linking to other people, and I’m sure lots of other stuff that annoys people. I can’t help it…my interest is peaked. Another project I want to tackle for this year is keeping that stuff off of this site and directing it to a different blog that is dedicated to that subject.

The One I Wish Was More Popular
Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about The Wire. I really wished more people watched this show, especially the season that starts next week which will address the media. I’ve had several great conversations with people who watch The Wire, and I’d love to bring more of them to this venue. In fact, I think I’m going to, despite the fact that most people don’t know about the show. At least I’ll have the bragging rights that a couple of people heard about it from me when they are finally turned on to it.

Your Computer Will Get Thinner–Guaranteed

I’ve been saying for quite a while, at least 5 years, that we aren’t far away from a time when your desktop computer will be little more than a browser, with all of your applications and data stored server side–somewhere out there.  The day may be closer than you think according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google is preparing a service that would let users store on its computers essentially all of the files they might keep on their personal-computer hard drives — such as word-processing documents, digital music, video clips and images, say people familiar with the matter. The service could let users access their files via the Internet from different computers and mobile devices when they sign on with a password, and share them online with friends. It could be released as early as a few months from now, one of the people said.

I think this is a good and bad thing.  Good because it will open up the ability to store and share information between individuals.  Bad in that Google is the entity doing it.  As far as I can imagine, no competitor has both the resources and the power to do it.  Microsoft?  Maybe, but they are going in so many directions and have their fingerss in a lot of pies.  Google is web focused.

What I Really Want To Do Is…

I just subscribed to an RSS feed that is work related.  There’s a ton of good information that flows through this feed, but since it’s work, I’m only looking for a certain few articles.   I dug through Google Reader a little bit to see if there was a filter option, but I couldn’t find one.

Any ideas?  Is there a way to set up keyword filters on a feed by feed basis in Google Reader?  What about on other readers?  I know that Yahoo has Pipes, and there are some others with filters, but I’m hooked on the Reader interface.

First Annual Backlink Drive

This isn’t really an SEO oriented blog, but the topic does come up every now and then, usually relating to things like the importance of backlinks. Backlinks help in several ways–traffic, Technorait authority, Google PR–and are key to building a successful blog, or so I’ve read.

How do you get links? A couple of ways are pretty easy, but also pretty meaningless. Paying for links (I don’t and can’t afford it) can be risky, and submitting your site to a ton of directories that don’t get much traffic (I have) takes a lot of time.

My preferred way to get links is to write some good content that people who author blogs dig and want to talk about themselves. This is the best type of link in my opinion. It implies relevance to the other blog’s readers which produces traffic, it provides strength in measuring systems like Technorati, and most importantly, it strokes my ego. Seriously—the fact that someone liked (or hated) a specific post I wrote enough to comment on it is pretty cool.

The next best link is the one I’m asking for in this post–the Blogroll Link. I rank it second for one main reason–I’m not always sure what it means. It could mean that you like this blog in general, but not necessarily any one post specifically. It could mean that you are linking to get the attention of the blog you linked to in hopes of getting a link back. It could just mean that someone asked you for a link, and that’s the easiest way to give them one. That’s exactly what I’m doing here. I’m conducting my First Annual Backlink Drive by asking all of the folks who subscribe to the feed or visit on a regular basis to take a couple of seconds and add me to your blogroll.

There, that’s it…quick and painless. I figured this is a much better way to ask than emailing a bunch of folks individually. It saves time for everyone, and since you are probably reading this through a feed, you remain anonymous and don’t have to feel bad because you told me “no”.

By the way, the correct answer is “yes”.

Thanks! And feel free to spread this idea around amongst your own readers/subscribers. A backlink to the guy who gave you the idea would be much appreciated. 😉

I’m going to measure the success of this request by Tehcnorati. As of this posting, authority=49 and reacions=84. While I’m in the mood I’m going to go ahead and pen the draft for the Second Annual Backlink Drive, coming to this blog November 7, 2008.

Ask Not What Google Can Do For You

I’d wager that most of this blog’s regular readers fall into two main categories. The first group is those who know me IRL and like to see me make an ass of myself. Lately that has been happening online with a keyboard much more frequently than late at night with a debit card. Probably not as funny, but they have the convenience of seeing it whenever they want. It’s a trade off.

The other group is made up of other people who are part of the blogosphere and, like the first group, like to see me make an ass of myself. I see a pattern developing here. Based on what I’ve seen and read on their sites, a large majority of these people are in it solely for the fame and glory of blogging. They can actually write, and they aren’t as concerned with the piles of nickels and pennies that can be piled up slowly by spending countless hours working on their layout, optimizing for search engines, reading message boards about search engines, and on and on.

So for those people who aren’t keeping up with the technical end so much, I’ll give you the quick and dirty version of what’s been happening with Google over the last few months. Whether you actually care or not, this is going to affect you eventually.

* A site’s Google’s PageRank (site relevancy) is influenced by links from other sites
* Naturally, this created a market for links, and people bought links from other sites to boost the PageRank of their site
* Google didn’t like this and is now penalizing link sellers who did not report paid links.
* Some people will stop selling links. Some people will sell links and not get caught. Other people who have never sold links will be wrongly penalized.
* All of these people could become angry.

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again–creating good, original content is your best strategy in the long run. You can game the system for a little while, but remember that the search engine belongs to them–they make the rules of the game.

For those who don’t like Google’s latest tactics, your choices are pretty simple. You can play Google’s game by their rules, you can play Google’s game by your own rules, or you can support a different search engine whose rules you like better. My official stance is that of Switzerland. Although unofficially….

My guess is that we are about to see several new web ranking systems that do not belong to Google. They’ve basically rendered PageRank useless. Don’t be shocked if some big players in the game jump ship from Google and start using their influence with their users to thwart Google’s current dominance.

Google Buys Jaiku

…and inches a little further towards critical mass. This is definitely going to change things–what will all you Twitter-ites do?

Google has bought Finnish start-up Jaiku, which offers a mobile phone application that locates users and allows them to post short messages to a social network.

The news comes as rumours reach fever pitch that Google could launch a mobile phone, or mobile phone operating system as early as February 2008.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the absolute death of Twitter. There are instances where Google’s product is being outdone–Picasa/Flickr, Blogger/Wordpress. But in general they are heavy hitter in any market they enter. I think the mobile phone arena could actually use a good Googling.

As for me, I have to draw the line at text messaging and Twitter. Those are two things that seem absolutely pointless to me.

Anchor Text Matters!

Sending out the 411 to the other bloggers who read this–yes, the anchor text you use when linking to other bloggers matters, technically.

Michael Silence says:

In my more than five years of following blogs and my three years of blogging, it’s always been clear linking to the source is proper attribution.

It’s also concise.

This item, from the No Silence Here blog of Michael Silence on knoxnews.com, raises… — 14 words.

Link — one word.

What do you think?

For search engines, especially Google, relevant anchor text in a link passes page rank stregth to the original site/article. If the anchor text is irrelevant to the originating site/story, the strength of the referring page’s rank is not passed or is lower. In Michael’s case, the anchor text “Link” doesn’t help the NYT article as much as “New York Times” does. “Link” could be spammmy, “New York Times” probably isn’t.

Here’s a pretty good article on anchor text and links (see how I did that) and how Google views them.

Having said all that, it’s pretty odd that the guy would actually complain about it. Me, I’ll take any link I can get and hope that the context of the link is relevant. Worst case scenario–I get more readers. Best case–I get more readers and a Google boost.

There is quite a bit of discussion going on right now about Google’s statement that they don’t want to pass page rank between sites if the links are paid for. The thing is, how do you know if a link is organic or bought if the anchor text that creates the link is relevant to both the original source and the referring site?

Want to get confused even further? Try to decipher how Google really works by reading Matt Cutt’s blog.

Hurricane Dean — Operation Mexico Cleanup (phase 1)

Unless your living under a rock, you have heard that Hurricane Dean is hitting the Yucatan peninsula right now (8/21/2007 early morning).  It was a very strong storm, but land and hurricanes just don’t get along.  The storm dropped from a central pressure of 906mb to 935mb in just three hours (from 5:00am to 8:00am EDT).  Sustained winds decreased from 165mph to 125mph in that same period.  Just think about how strong it could have been if Mexico had of stayed out of the way.

It’s amazing how accurate the forecast models have been for this storm.  The first runs from August 15th had this storm hitting Cancun.  Instead it nailed Majahual.  That’s only about 250miles to the south.  Google Earth shows some beautiful pictures from this area.  I think I’ll head down to The Playa Tequila Club once they have had some time to rebuild.  New hotels are nice.

Keep your fingers crossed that Dean can cross the Yucatan quickly.  Once back over the warm smooth waters of the gulf, it should be able to gain strength again.  Likely this one storm will clean up two parts of Mexico.

Update:

At 2:00pm EDT, the NHC is calling Dean a Category 1 hurricane with a central pressure of 960mb and sustained winds of 85mph.  So as Jimmy Buffett says, “it ain’t…nothin but a breeze”.