Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

September 30, 2007

How NOT to fundraise

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 4:26 pm

I was interrupted during the Lions game today by a kid selling candy at my door. Ordinarily I’m a sucker for helping kids fund raise (ok, you got me I’m just a sucker for candy!)

Anyway, before I could say “Gimmie some Reeses cups” he went into his spiel about what he was fund raising for. After listening to the kid talk, I decided NOT to buy any candy from him.

This little brat was selling candy to finance a trip to cedar point for him and his brother. It wasn’t even part of a school or a club! To make matters worse, he was from a city about 20 miles away from me!!

I know times are rough in Michigan right now, but that’s no reason to send your kid around trying to sell candy so you can make money. If he was selling for charity, a sports team, church, school, or anything else that somehow provides value it would have been a different story. But an amusement park for you and your family? You’ve got to be kidding me! If you can’t afford Cedar Point, don’t go, but don’t drive your kid 20 miles away to a more upscale part of town to re-sell your store bought candy. That’s just not right.

September 25, 2007

In Seattle

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 8:00 pm

I’ll be in Seattle (actually, Bellevue) until late Thursday night, so if you’re trying to get a hold of me you’re going to have to wait it out.

Hopefully I’ll have some news to announce after I get back.

September 24, 2007

CEO’s Starting To “get it” When It Comes To Blogging

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 3:25 pm

A long time ago I did a post about the best job search sites as well as a post on HotJobs Spam. I was really impressed when Craigslist CEO Craig Newmark came in to comment and share his thoughts.

More recently I did a post talking about how cool the techcrunch winner Mint.com looked, and how frustrated I was because I couldn’t use it. Lo and behold, Mint CEO Aaron Patzer stopped in to offer his apologies.

Today, at the bottom of a post venting about my bank I mentioned that Mint was working fine for me, and that I wish they’d combine with Cake Financial to form one uber financial system. And guess what? Cake’s CEO, Steven Carpenter, stopped by to offer his take.

Now, I’m not trying to stroke my ego when it comes to this blog. I barely get a few hundred readers each day. If you’ve heard of the A list, I’m probably a member of the D list. That’s what impresses me so much about these CEO’s stopping by to comment on my blog.

These guys clearly understand the importance of blogging and having a visible presence (or, as Robert Scoble calls it: Naked Conversation) out there for your customers. They’re taking time out of their day to not only read what people think of their services, but to respond to it as well. And that’s important as hell!

In today’s web2.0 world customers don’t want to see just a big ugly corporation. They want to associate a face, a voice, and a person with that company. It’s amazing how many companies fail in this regard. We’ve already seen how bad it can blow up when you fake it. Just look at the MagsForLess.com bot that posts the same text on every blog complaining about getting ripped off. That just makes things worse!

Nowadays most companies have blogs but they only use them to hock more product; and rarely comment back (if they even allow comments.) These same companies would never even think to interact with somebody on a different website, and that’s sad.

It’s great to see that many CEO’s are starting to understand the power of blogging. These guys are going to go places.

Why Do Banks Suck At The Internet?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 9:00 am

If you’ve ever done any online banking, you’re probably familiar with the whole concept of wish it was 2 factor authentication. Basically it’s their attempt to implement the “something you have (atm card) plus something you know (pin #)” idea on the internet. The only problem is, it uses something you know (password) and something you most likely will forget (grandpa’s nickname, pet’s name, business street name, or favorite mersenne prime)

Well my bank did something similar. They asked me for questions a very long time ago. Unfortunately they didn’t let me pick the questions, so I was forced to make up a pet name at a time I didn’t have a pet (among other things.)
Last Wednesday they finally presented me with one of these questions. It was the company street name one. Of course I have no idea when I filled this out, and haven’t used it for a LONG time so I couldn’t remember if it was Troy Center, General Drive, South Street, or Meyer.

I tried Troy Center. That wasn’t it. Restart… Oh shit I’m locked out.

Not only was I locked out, there’s no number to call, address to email, or automated form to get me unlocked.

Here it is 5 days later and I’m still locked out of my account. I just called the bank and to get unlocked it requires me to go in to the bank in person, and then for them to call another company to unlock my account. Ridiculous!

I also just noticed that everybody can login with their account #, and account numbers are sequential. Given that it only takes one improper try to lock an account, it would be very trivial to write a program that locks out every user simultaneously. It’s a good thing for them I’m not feeling mischievous today.

On a side note, mint is working fine now and it’s a great program. Try it out! I’m also liking another techcrunch runner up called Cake Financial. It’s like mint but for investment accounts. Those 2 should really combine.

September 21, 2007

Physics, Boats, and Interview Questions

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 8:46 am

By now we’re all familiar with the crazy interview questions given potential Google and Microsoft employees (and anybody who’s ever interviewed with me.) Often times they’re not even closely related to the job, but they’re good at seeing somebody’s thought process.

By now every programmer should know how to solve the lightbulb problem or the bridge problem by memory, and we’re pretty good at estimating the height of the empire state building in quarters (and how many sodas that would buy.) A few of us have even estimated the number of gas stations in the US and then looked it up to see we were close – it’s over 200,000.

But there’s one that I just can’t prove either way… and I don’t remember enough college physics to prove it.

Here’s the question:
You’re on a boat in the ocean and you throw a very heavy suitcase overboard. Does the boat rise in the water?

I can make a compelling argument for either side, but I want to know what side is correct.

Can anybody prove this using math and physics? I’d be interested to see how.

I’m leaving up north today for a wedding, and then I’m in Seattle next week.. but I’ll check in to see if anybody has an answer for me.

September 19, 2007

Having a Mint, btw what’s a good bank.

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:05 am

Like millions of other people right now I’ve been trying out Mint – the online finance manager. It looks like it has lots of cool features, but so far I’ve been unable to get it to add any of my accounts. They all just time out and say “try again.” I’m sure it has to do with their traffic.

On a side note, I managed to lock myself out of my credit union account because I can’t remember what street my business was on years ago when I set up my account, nor if I entered James or Jimmy for my sibling’s name.

Not only does my bank not work with quicken, money, or mint – they don’t offer me a way to unlock myself out of their online banking. After calling the office they told me “we’re not sure, we think it unlocks after a few hours.” To me, that’s just not acceptable. If you need some help to ease your mind about your finances, you must want to check out this new post to learn the secrets of bookkeeping management.

Needless to say I’ll be writing myself a check for the entire contents of my account… the question is where should I put it?

I have an ING account, but I like having an actual branch account for all of it’s other benefits. Is anyone offering free ipods or $50 or what not? Where do you bank? Why?

September 17, 2007

Small Updates

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:13 pm

It seems I’ve found my motivation. I managed to get a bunch of small changes done tonight that I’ve been wanting to get done to some of my websites for a while. The good news is that I got about 5 or 6 things done. The bad news is, I’ve got about 20 or 30 more to do.

So here’s what I did:

  1. Added a cool new feed scroller to the bottom of feedbutton
  2. Added links to my Shoutwire editorials on the right side of dotCULT
  3. Finally fixed translatebritish – it works again!
  4. Got around to approving about 100 new words for noslang – and added a dropdown to the menu too!
  5. Got some work done on an upcoming project called allslang. It’s nowhere close to done, but I got started
  6. A few other things too that I’m not at liberty to talk about yet… more news coming soon!

It feels good to finally get my programming motivation back. I hope I can channel this into the next few months and get some really cool things done.

The Battle At Kruger

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 9:55 am

This video is a little old, but it’s been making it’s way around the internet lately. If you’re a national geographic or discovery channel aficionado like I am, it’s definitely a must see.

Basically Mr Lion decides to make lunch out of Little Baby Buffalo. Upon tackling Little Baby Buffalo into the water, Mr Lion begins trying to pull his prey back up onto dry land (I guess Baby Buffalo soup isn’t as good as plain old Baby Buffalo.)

Meanwhile, Mr Crocodile thought that Baby Buffalo soup sounded plenty fine to him, and a baby buffalo tug of war erupts between Mr Lion and Mr Crocodile. Mr Lion eventually hauls his prey back onto dry land.

That’s when Little Baby Buffalo’s family gets involved and starts kicking some Lion ass.

Check it out:

I just had to share that.

Oh yeah.. Expect some light posting from me over the next 2 weeks both here and on shoutwire. I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on this week (not to mention 2 softball games and a hockey game.) Then I’m going out of town this weekend for a wedding, and when I get back I’ll be in the Seattle area (Bellevue) on the 26th and 27th. Hopefully I’ll have some good news to announce after I return.

September 14, 2007

Google Beats All On Indexing Time

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 8:42 am

When it comes to freshness of sites and indexing time, it appears to me that Google is the hands down winner – Especially when it comes to spidering deep links.

About 3 days ago I added another trap word to NoSlang.com, my Internet slang dictionary. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a “trap word” is simply a word that doesn’t exist but is added to a dictionary for the sole purpose of seeing if anybody is copying your material. I’ve got about 5 or 6 in the whole dictionary, and they’ve been very useful for spotting copycats.

I always hate being that asshole, but I’ve actually had 2 or 3 sites shut down at the web host level after their owners repeatedly ignored my requests to stop copying my shit.

After 3 days of having this word up there (on a page about 3 clicks deep) I can say that only Google shows results for the search term. This particular word is istwfn – an abbrevation for “I stole this word from noslang.com.”

Check it out: Google shows results. Yahoo, Ask, Live, A9, and even Altavista don’t show anything yet.

Note: these searches will probably all soon show this post due to it’s regularly fast indexing, but they still don’t show the noslang.com page.

I know Google’s had some recent criticism lately about freshness, but it looks like they’re on the right track.

September 5, 2007

Google Gives Newspapers What They Want: Less Traffic

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 8:39 pm

I just posted this over on shoutwire, but I’m reposting it here too.

With their constant attempts to sue Google for sending them traffic or lock up their content, it’s pretty clear that most newspapers don’t understand the internet – and why should they?

The internet is basically the anti-newspaper. Where a newspaper is designed to be one source of news for people in a specific location. As sites like this prove, people want differing viewpoints in their news. We read the stories that interest us – and only those stories.

Call it “infosnacking” if you want, but that’s how today’s youth gets their news. Actually, I’m not even sure what infosnacking means, but I haven’t used it since it was declared word of the year.

Unfortunately, newspapers aren’t following the trends. Almost every day I see a new article popping up about somebody suing Google for having their articles in Google news while search engine marketers like myself are pulling out hairs trying to get our content listed there.

If you’re not familiar with Google news it’s basically an aggregator like Shoutwire. Instead of being user submitted though, Google scans the web for news stories, shows a snippet, and links to the original version. There are no ads on Google news.

The newspapers don’t like this. It doesn’t allow them total control of their content, and it really screws up their advertising demographics. Whereas before a Colorado newspaper could ensure most of it’s visitors lived in Colorado, Google news brings a whole slew of new visitors.

They’ve gone so far as to accuse Google of stealing their content where it’s clearly fair us, and they’ve even tried to sue over increased bandwith costs from the Google traffic.

I’m not even going to elaborate on the newspaper outrage over the recently released feature allowing involved parties to add comments or clarifications on news stories. (or in the case of Fox news, a non GOP spin on things.) Editors everywhere are crying foul – as if it’s not possible for a non journalist to have an educated opinion.

Well, earlier this month Google released a feature that my just give newspapers their wish.

After signing a deal with the AP, Google news will no longer link to AP syndicated stories. Instead, they’ll host them on their own servers.

This move not only reduces thousands of redundant links (as many AP stories show up in well over 50 newspapers) but ensures that readers view the original version credited to the original author. It’s helpful to the user while giving credit where credit is due.

It’s also very likely to cause huge traffic decreases for newspapers who only republish AP stories without adding any insight of their own.

Papers that “get it” and do actual reporting of their own stories however will most likely see more prominent listings and more traffic.

The question is: will the other papers notice the lack of traffic? If they do, will they care? I’m sure their advertisers will.

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