Upcoming Travel – Geek Meetups?

I have a few trips coming up and if you are in any of these areas, I’d love to meet you.

November 29,30 – Las Angeles, CA (business and The Winnies)
December 10-30 – Savannah, GA (going home for XMas)
January 6-11 – Las Vegas, NV (CES)

If you are a local or are going to be there during those times, call me (408) 718-0886 and don’t get any funny/creepy ideas because I am not afraid to Kung Fu your arse. 😉

Kindle Looks Cool, No Really I Mean It

OK, first thoughts on Kindle.

1. How long before this gets ‘upgraded’ and you piss off the early adopters? (a little Zune frustration is coming out here)
2. $400 is high. How come this doesn’t come with a few public domain books on there for fun?
3. Battery life looks awesome, as does weight. Think this is too late to ask for this for XMas?
4. Did they really just advertise blogs on there? That is cool (no, not being silly, really I do think that is cool).
5. Any audio? Will it read to me? Can I podcast newspaper subscriptions (ie Audible) on this device?
6. How long before this gets hacked like the jukebox? I mean the fact that it’s not wifi but mobile (ie like a cellphone/modem or aircard), makes this really cool for a hacked web tablet. Then again, the N770 is less than the $400 that this costs though it’s only Wifi capable out-of-the-box, but the potential is so darn fun…

Amazon Kindle

… and, PS to Amazon. Tsk Tsk, the only ‘share’ option is via email. Not very WOMM friendly. Also, when you ‘work three years’ on a product, make sure it’s ready to sell via your Associates store on launch day. Argh!

UPDATE: OK, another thought… Could this solve the sagging backpacks problem in school? I mean, I know you’re thinking, ‘she acts like she’s never seen an e-reader’, but I can’t help but think this is an almost must have for a traveling reader (erm, like me).

Optimizing Your Site For Speed

A thorough run down of of some great ways to quicken your site. Most are for heavy-traffic sites, not really blogs, but if your site is 1-heavily trafficked or 2-subject to heavy traffic at times, more advance optimization may be in order.

While some of this is common sense (reduce number of HTTP requests, make JS and CSS external, avoid redirects, etc.), some are a bit more advanced and will require time/monetary investment (CDN, assets hosted on diff domains, image sprites, etc.). If this is your cup of tea, that’s cool. If not, promise not to geek out on you too often. (via)

Welcome To Digg School – 4 Tips To Digg Success

Download As A Podcast

Over the past few years, I’ve written a number of posts that caught the attention of Digg users. Many were surprises, but a dozen or so were written specifically for Digg, mostly for clients. These successful Dugg stories or videos, etc. are what I want to discuss with you today. Were it not for Liz Strauss, I would not have had the inspiration to write this (she’s a real expert on this topic), so thanks to Liz for spurring me on here.

Now, I’m not going to tell you how to trick Digg users into digging your crappy content. If your content is crappy you stand little chance of getting dugg, I mean unless you have some hot pics of a geek girls in various stages of undress, lying in front of an extreme network connection or other appropriately IT-geek-fantasy pics. It’s either quality content or nudy pics… There is no way to win at Digg without either.

Must Have Great Content

This goes along with the ‘don’t have crappy content’ point, but it’s even more important. Don’t market ANYTHING EVER that isn’t absolutely fabulous. First, it’s a waste of time. Second, and more important, it can ruin your name. And, I don’t just mean your brand, which is extremely important, but even worse it can ruin the chances that anyone is ever again willing to look at your site, even after your content improves. What I mean by this is that if I see a link to your site and click it, if it’s bad, I note this fact. Now, if I later see your link, no matter what others are saying about how awesome it is, I remember that I’ve already seen it and it is not worthy of my time, so I’m not going to click through. Don’t ruin your chances of world domination by marketing unworthy content.

Now, what do I mean by ‘Great Content’? Well, here are some examples.

Note with each of these examples, you have something that is must see. In the case of the articles (not the video), you have something that’s so long and so useful that it’s too much to take in at one sitting. You are compelled to bookmark it, because it’s that good (and that long). Just reading some of these is a chore, because they take so much scholarly attention, but the content is so valuable to Digg readers, that they’ll bookmark it and Digg it. In the case of the video, it’s so good you want to pass it along to others. Viral marketing at it’s finest, for 20/20 at least…
Who Are You Looking To Impress?

Note that I specifically said ‘valuable to Digg readers’. Knowing your audience is vital here. Now’s the time to do some research. Not only are you specifically studying Digg readers overall, but you need to take time to study the Top Diggers. This used to be easier when there was a leaderboard, but a quick/easy way to find theme now is to study the homepage for a few days. Click on each homepage submitter’s name and check out their percentage of successful digs that made it Home.

A Top Digg User's Profile

Take a look at this guy’s stats. He was a random click for me on the homepage. However, note how high his submit percentage is (45%). That’s sizeable. That means that roughly out of every 2 stories he submits, almost 1 makes it to the homepage.

Do your research. Make impressing these guys your aim. If these guys submit you, then you have a great chance of success. Your goal should be to get these guys to find your article, and it should be specifically to tailor it to what they are already submitting.

A Little Friendly Stalking Never Hurt Anybody

There are a few ways to go about this, but the easiest is to stalk these guys. Yes, I know that sounds horrible, but if it didn’t work, Netscape wouldn’t have offered to pay them to do what they do so well (which is, of course, the reason there is no longer a Top 100 list, but that’s another story altogether).

I’ve been on Digg for a relatively long time in web years (since early 2005) so I have built up relationships with some people that are helpful in this way. Please note that this is an example of how organic community involvement is vital to your success online, and by doing it the way I have done it (ie by actually taking part in the community) you gain validity. Doing it this way is better, as you will garner more success and still be able to sleep at night.

Off my soapbox and back to stalking school… For the stalking though, I’m not talking about creepy ‘I’m a crazy person’ stalking, but really just attempting to form a relationship with them.

First, it’s research time. Take a look at their last 20 Diggs. What are they submitting? Who are they normally reading? Do you see any patterns you can exploit?

Now, for the next action: Take part in those communities (blogs, forums, etc.) and identify who they are and make an honest attempt to gain credibility in that community. Later, take a second to reach out to them asking for nothing. That relationship just may turn into their becoming a reader of your site.

Shoot for making relationships with at least 10 or so top Diggers. I don’t consider this gaming the system, because you are just trying to get them to notice you, you aren’t at all spamming them or annoying them.

Again, you get one shot here, so don’t overstep and NEVER ask for them to Digg you. If your stuff is good enough, they’ll notice you. If not, then go back to the content-creating drawing board.

If it didn’t work ask yourself, “Is your content relevant to Digg readers”? Remember, they tend to like extreme science breakthroughs (medical, astronomy, physics, etc.), technology related content, Digg related content and sexy stuff. If your blog is not related to those topics at all, I wouldn’t waste my time and energy with Digg. It’s not worth the effort. Try broader sites like Netscape, or niche oriented ones like Lipstick. A quick Google Yahoo! search will garner you more social bookmarking sites than you can shake a stick at.

Monetize – What have you done for me lately?

You are probably thinking, ‘this is a lot of work’. Yes, it is a lot of work, but for some things it is worth the effort. You’ll need to calculate the ROI of each marketing campaign you run, and yes, this is just another marketing campaign. Your results, whether your aim is immediate money or long-term branding, are definitely measurable. If they are branding, it’s a bit harder, but just capturing the mentions, the comments, etc. in a spreadsheet will help you understand quickly if it was worth the effort.

Monetization tracking is even easier. I’ve never depended on Adsense on my sites for monetization, my money-maker has always been through direct consulting jobs. For my clients, however, the large majority have not been about ad clicks nor sales, but branding. They’d want a particular product to gain attention, a contest to gain traction or a specific area of their site to gain memberships and authoritative backlinks. Because we were careful to define exactly what we wanted, tracking the campaign was easy via tracking traffic, WOM buzz, sign-ups, sales, etc.

I promise not to bore you further with all this marketing talk, but I wanted to point out that the most important thing to remember when determining if all this is worth the effort is in defining exactly what you want to do from the beginning. With clear cut goals (ie I want to gain 5K views, 50 subscribers and earn $25 in advertising sales and I am willing to spend 4 hours on this effort), you can easily track your efforts and determine if this should get another try next month.

The Bottom Line

  • Determine your goals
  • Write or build to your audience
  • Make it damn good
  • Schmooze with the best

Odds are, you will not make hundreds of dollars on a Digg story, unless you know some hoodoo-voodoo that I don’t know (and some of you probably do). PPC monetization is rarely effective on Dugg stories. Digg is much more effective at making sure your content, product, video, etc. get attention, at Digg and around the blogosphere.

Good luck, and as always, I’m Duzins on Digg. Let’s be friends 🙂

Download As A Podcast

BlogWorld Expo Highlights

I just got back from BlogWorld Expo and am still decompressing. I’m not going to try to list everyone here, but suffice it to say I met loads of cool people, Liz being my usual partner in crime, as always, Wendy and Christina joining in when possible.

I was planning on vandalizing the BlogCatalog booth, but instead I just waited until they left and made myself at home in their booth. I went and talked to them as we were leaving the show one night and they were really cool. I really was overwhelmed at how really nice they were. Here’s the picture of my misdeed. When I told them about it they thought it was hilarious. I love people with a good sense of humor!

Community Manager For MyBlogLog Hangs Out At BlogCatalog Booth

I got to meet some heros of mine, including Matt Mullenweg, Jeremy Pepper and more. Coolest was that I got to give the Weblog Award to Leo Laporte for best podcast (thanks Kevin!). While on stage he actually said, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were with MyBlogLog. I’m a big fan of MyBlogLog”. I think I should have stopped the show there and got him to say that in the mic. 😉

Leo Laporte, Robyn Tippins

Tris was nice enough to introduce me to Leo before the ceremony. He seems like such a cool guy. Leo, I mean. I already knew Tris was the coolest person evah.

Anyhoo, I’m back in the saddle again and I can’t wait to get back to work. Yeah, I’m serious, but then I’m really, really weird.

All Photos By Tris Hussey

A Few Yahoo! Product Suggestions

I’ve taken some time over the last few weeks to pay attention to different Yahoo! services. In addition to being an employee I’m a huge Y! service lover, from Upcoming to Del.icio.us, from Music to Widgets, they’ve really built/bought some great products.

I thought it would be fun to walk through a few of their products and give them my ‘How I’d Improve This Product’ dealio, so here goes.

1. Mail

Make it Zimbra 😉

2. Calendar

Make it Google Cal… Nah, just kidding, but the functionality of Google Cal should be their aim. At present it doesn’t seem like the Y! Calendar is getting much product attention, since it is far from something I’d use. I’d suggest, off the top of my head:

1. Making it sync via iCal. Right now when you click sync it tries to sync your mail from other services and that’s retarded.
2. Adding in contexts (always fun to go all GTD).
3. Allowing imports from other services. Lower the barrier to entry.
4. Ajax. Otherwise, it’s useless.
5. Photos. Why are they asking you if you want to add photos to your calendar? Who the heck does that?
6. Connected Devices… What is this supposed to do? When I click it I get an error message that it’s unavailable.

3. Yahoo Music

As a moron who has a Mac as my primary computer and a Zune as my primary listening device (I know…), no music service is going to completely please me. That said, they’ve done a huge overhaul and the result is a much cleaner and cooler look, incorporating Upcoming and other cool stuff (where’s MyBlogLog?), but if they want me to be able to use them, Y! Music really should:

1. Be compatible with a Mac. I mean I have a PC too, but it would be cool to be able to use the service on my Mac as well. I get a message that I should ‘upgrade’ to Vista or XP, LOL. Upgrade? Not even close…
2. Make Zune one of their devices. I pay Microsoft $15 per month for the privilege of using Zune.net and I’d rather use Yahoo!, especially at $6-8 per month, and I don’t have that option right now, although apparently I can use my phone. What is up with that?
3. Make the call to action a little more noticeable. I just spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to download the client, before I noticed the really small ad in the bottom right-hand corner. Tsk-Tsk

4. Groups

I’ve seen some of the changes coming to groups, and me likee. However, I’d also add that calendar, and perhaps even upcoming, should really get tied into that product, for maximum usefulness. As well, groups and message boards both seem like a natural fit for our little widget, but then again, if it were up to me it’d be on every page at Yahoo! 😉

Well, I’ve wasted enough time listing what-ifs today. If I have some time in the coming weeks, I’ll try to do this again. If you create something similar, let me know and I’ll link to it. I love to read product reviews and ideas.

Is Vista Yet Ready?

I finally took Vista off of my laptop last week. While my main computer is a Mac, I’d been attempting to use Vista since February on my secondary laptop to no avail. After several months of heartache, I still had no sound. And, I know I’m not the only one as my post on Vista sound (back when I was beta-testing it in October) still gets hundreds of hits via Google per day. …maybe I should monetize that post. 😉

Anyway, I was wondering, is there anyone out there who is using Vista with satisfactory results? I know that EVERYONE I talk to who has used Vista on their own machines tells me that it performs like a Beta software. I know that there were no changes, that I noticed, from the beta test to the finished product.

What does this mean? Well, for one, I can’t imagine that Microsoft actually RELEASED a piece of software to compete with XP and OS X, that just does not work. It seems to be a case of shooting themselves in the foot. I should state for the record that I am a big MS fanboi, with 3 XBoxes, 2 Xbox 360s and a Zune (yes, a Zune). I have no beef with most other stuff that MS has done, and have no grudge against them. Shoot, we even own Microsoft stock!

I just can’t believe that they actually released this software. I’ve never been one to call for someone’s job (note all my previous posts are really, really nice), but were I in management, anyone with even ‘manager’ in their name on that team would be gone now. I just can’t fathom the strategy here… Why are they not even trying to get more updates or fixes out there?

Anyone with a clue, please clue me in.

Rose Does The Right Thing

Right before heading to bed I had to check the Digg story one more time to see if the guys had come to their senses, and it seems they have (and just in time).

We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

I love that Kevin posted this himself, and even included the offending code in the subject. While they didn’t do the right thing at first, they couldn’t have saved this situation any classier. It brings to mind the Facebook RSS snafu of last year. Way to go Digg team!

MyBlogLog Is Looking For Engineers

I wanted to draw your attention to MyBlogLog for just a moment. We’re looking hard to fill these spots, so if you have the nerd cred, I’d love to work with you!

MyBlogLog is Looking For Engineers

If you are a kick-ass LAMP developer or Ops engineer, then we want to hear from you.

A couple of ground rules:

* You must be a US citizen
* You are either close to Berkeley, CA or willing to relocate immediately
* You must like gobs of money — Yahoo! pays really well

There are two openings, so make sure to read both. If you fit either of these positions and meet the ground rules above, please send an email to eric@mybloglog.com along with a resume and a list of sites on which you’ve worked.

————-

Description
Position: Software Engineer
Location: US – Berkeley

MyBlogLog is seeking a versatile Software Engineer with knowledge of PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript.

Responsibilities include:

* Architecting, coding and testing new PHP/MySQL applications
* Architecting, coding and testing new JavaScript based site widgets
* Testing and improving existing MyBlogLog sites and widgets

Minimum Job Qualifications:

* 5+ years experience in PHP/MySQL development
* 4+ years experience JavaScript/DOM programming

Preferred Job Qualifications:

* Strong knowledge of security best practices.
* Strong work ethic and desire to help contribute to the future success of MyBlogLog
* Knowledge of Yahoo! operating environments and systems a big plus