This is an automated daily posting...
Reason #618 to work at Yahoo: fast network connections.
Just for kicks, I decided to use the BroadBandReports.com speed test to check the speed of the Internet connection as seen by my notebook.
Roughly 80Mb/sec. Not bad. Not bad at all...
It looks like I'm going to be on a panel called "Harnessing the Buzz Power of Blogs" at the 2005 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Conference in Atlanta. The theme for this year appears to be "Learn to listen to your customer."
My panel doesn't appear on the list yet, but I'm sure that'll be fixed before too long. Anyway, if you had the chance to talk to a room full of folks at such a conference, what would you tell them about blogs?
I have many ideas, of course, but would love to know what others think before I start putting a presentation together.
Wow, it's about time the big sites started doing this.
Spotted over on the Microsoft Monitor weblog:
Early this morning, I read up on the latest news about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Of interest, interactive graphic over at MSNBC. Down in the lower right-hand corner is "Blog this," which if clicked logs the user into MSN Spaces (assuming he or she has a space) and fills in a post with title and link. User just needs to click save. The filled-in post looks like this.
I've been hoping that Yahoo! News would do this for a while now.
Good job, Microsoft.
I'm experimenting with posting my "daily links" once a day as a full-fledged entry on my blog. The links come from my linkblog which is also mirrored on my del.icio.us page.
Is this useful? Annoying? Stupid? Funny? Not worth it?
Let me know...
Speaking of web-based mail, it seem that a little Firefox extension lets you "add ajax support to Yahoo! Mail"
Okay, I'll try to shut up about web-based mail for a day or so.
[Spotted by a co-worker on the Ajaxian Blog.]
I have to respectfully disagree with Michael Bazeley who says:
As anyone who's used both Gmail and Yahoo Mail knows, one of the standout features of Gmail is its search ability.
I've been using GMail since the first day it was available and search has never been the standout feature for me. Instead, it's the fact that GMail acts like a desktop app, has lots of room, and something that approximates threading.
If they add sorting to the search results, then I'll be impressed (sort of).
More info on creating Widgets that work on the Mac and Windows is on Yahoo! Widgets.
I love it when mail arrives that is clearly the result of a copy and past or mail merge process gone wrong. Here's the latest example, which arrived yesterday afternoon:
Hi Jeremy, I am writing you to introduce myself as well as ask you to guide me to the appropriate individual within Google whom I should be in contact with as it pertains to your Financial Data Strategy.
It goes on a to say a lot more about the company, but frankly I lost interest after reading that far.
My response goes like this:
Being a Yahoo employee, I have little access to Google's Financial Data Strategy. And, as someone who worked on Yahoo! Finance for three years, I highly doubt they'd be willing to discuss it with me.
What do you think?
I suppose I could have simply ignored the message, but I'm sitting in the car for 4.5 hours today anyway. And besides, what fun would ignoring it be? :-)
Another note I got starts like this:
I understand you are the Blogger for Jeremy Zawodny's Blog and thought this would be a fun piece for you.
The deductive reasoning showcased in that single paragraph is astounding. I've get to come up with a decent reply to it...
I've made several switches from various services to other services recently. Here's are two along the rationale for each:
There was a third switch, but I forgot it as I wrote the other two. Damn.
What have you switched recently?
Update: Yahoo! Mail does have keyboard shortcuts. I'm trying to find a link that lists them all.
I'm in Chicago now, waiting for the second leg of my flight back to Ohio for a family wedding. It's damned cold here (air conditioning) and there's no Wifi. Chicago is such a lame airport.
I'm convinced now more than ever. But I'll spare you all long rant about why it's dead, since others have already written this for me:
Very soon, I'll disable support for Trackback pings on my blog. I'll still get them via email but will not automatically link 'em. I'll probably do the same on the Yahoo! Search blog. Luckily we have services like PubSub, Technorati, Feedster, and Bloglines to fill the void.
Discuss. Or not.
Last weekend I flew in Air Sailing's annual Gerlach Dash. It's an informal contest where glider pilots launch from the Air Sailing gliderport in Nevada and fly to the Black Rock Desert (home of Burning Man).
The day turned out to be weaker than anticipated and I was one of the pilots who didn't make it to the desert. I landed back at Air Sailing and drove up. I'm sort of glad I did, too. I got to see the nearby terrain up close and know where else I can and cannot land in the future. I also got to drive around the beautiful Pyramid Lake.
Once I arrived in Gerlach and had dinner with the rest of the group, a couple of us headed out to the Black Rock to pick up the gear they'd brought up in anticipation of my landing. I wanted to shoot some pictures but it was getting dark, so I decided to do that on Sunday morning.
I'm glad I waited. In good daylight conditions, the desert is an impressive place. Standing out on the playa, you really do get a sense of how large and barren it is out there. I like it.
The rest of my pictures are in my Gerlach Dash 2005 photo set.
Every once in a while I misread something and end up laughing at myself pretty hard. A few minutes ago I saw a response to someone who was selling some stuff on our "for sale" mailing list at work. The response was from someone interested it the seller's wine rack, but the first time my eyes scanned it I read this:
I am all over your wife's rack if it's still available! I've been looking for one exactly like it.
I am all over your wine rack if it's still available! I've been looking for one exactly like it.
Honest mistake, right? :-)
Someday I'll grow up. Maybe.
I like reading Seth Godin once in a while. His recent post titled Clueless is a must read. He provides a few examples of the people we run into every day who are more concerned with following procedures than being reasonable human beings.
The story of the $4 bank argument is quite familiar to me...
Then, this morning, I head to the bank. Poor guy is arguing with the "customer service manager". The problem? He had $4 in his checking account as he was waiting to close it. The bank charged him a monthly $5 service fee. The fee bounced. Then they charged him $30 for bouncing the fee on an inactive account.
The manager was trying to explain the policy, but the bottom line is that all the real estate, all the ads, all the marble, all the computers... all wasted... because they were enraging the guy. Over $4.
I once agrued with a credit union about something similar. I had to wait about 7 years, but I eventually won. I got my $5 and a few cents interest, damnit!
And finally, leaving the bank, I saw the most amazing interaction (yes, this is true.) A woman is first in line. She's withdrawing $1,000 from her account. The teller pushes away from the desk and goes and gets her signature card (this is a neighborhood bank) to match it against the woman's signature on the withdrawal slip.
The customer tells me that:
1. the teller has been working there for twenty years.
2. the customer comes in at least once a week.
3. they always check her signature
and, ready for this...
4. she's been a customer at this bank for seventy years. I am not making this up. She is very proud that she's nearly (nearly!) their longest-serving customer. The account is more than seventy years old. And they check her signature.
Who are these people?
I know you're late to the search game and even later to the RSS game, but seriously... WTF?!
Please take a lesson from the rest of the RSS aggregation and search services. Listen to a ping stream and think about checking once an hour or so.
Well, since we can't park worth a damn around here anyway, the company went ahead and got us valet parking.
So you know what that means, right? More pictures on Flickr!
The good news is that we have Yet Another Building coming on-line soon and a big chunk of us will be moving before long. That should mean more parking and less cube sharing.
Our random for sale and recommendations email list at work has failed me, so I appeal to the wisdom of my blog readers on this one...
I'm looking for a decent little steam cleaning vacuum that I can use for spot cleaning my carpet (spills, pet stains, etc). This is not intended for cleaning whole rooms or anything like that.
Any recommendations? (Aside from "don't get light carpet, dumbass...")
First off all, many people are suddenly crying "size doesn't matter!" and that doesn't smell right. If size really doesn't matter, then why didn't anyone jump on Google for having that counter ("Searching 8,168,684,336 web pages") on their home page for so long? They have one of the most sparse home pages around but seem to believe it's important enough to waste a few bytes with that number.
We all know that number is bullshit anyway, right? When's the last time it changed? Oh, right. When MSN Search declared a larger number. Coincidence, I'm sure.
It seems odd to me that size became irrelevant right about the time that Yahoo! comes out witch a much larger number. It's almost as if some Google fans are in denial. There's got to be some reason that our number has evoked such emotional responses.
But, hey... that's just me.
All that aside, how can you argue that size doesn't matter? If Google indexed only 100,000 documents, would it be nearly as useful as it is today? Of course not. Without indexing a reasonable amount of the Web, they'd be missing important stuff.
Danny Sullivan says "Screw Size!" and he's right. Having a big f'ing index doesn't help if you can't figure out how to return relevant documents. He'd rather we compare relevancy.
I couldn't agree more. Relevancy is what matters and it's a simple test you can do yourself. Try your search on both sites and see which one provides the better results.
Or you can use RustySearch and rate results while you're at it. The RustyBrick Search Engine Relevancy Challenge aims to quantify which service produces better results. If you look at the results, you'll see that Yahoo is quite competitive. Last I looked, we were ahead of Google by a small margin.
I know, I know. It's not a perfect measure. There are flaws in the system. The audience is wrong. The sample not large enough. Etc.
There are a lot of holes you can poke there. But that doesn't mean it's not useful.
Speaking of holes...
I knew it was going to be one of those days when the NCSA results got linked on Slashdot. As I expected, the slashdot herd jumped for joy at the chance to prove Yahoo wrong and hold Google up as the reigning champ of web search and all things non-evil
But I didn't see anyone look very closely at the methodology or results, which are all public (as is the source code). As Seth noted, "The methodology is severely flawed, with a sampling-error bias." In fact, there are so many poor assumptions behind it that I had to laugh when I read about it. It's really more of a clever hack than a scientific comparison. I see little evidence that anyone looked at the actual results.
Using randomly chosen words doesn't reflect the real world at all. But even if you suspend logic for a while and look at some of the cases when Google "beat" Yahoo, it gets more interesting. The "extra" results on Google are dominated by pages that are simple large word lists.
Seth listed one that illustrates the problem quite well. Search for "alkaloid's observance" on Google and on Yahoo. Guess what. On Yahoo you find no results but Google shows several. Dig a bit deeper and you see that the pages Google found are garbage. This page (the #1 result) no longer contains the target phrase. So you check the cached copy and notice that it's just a bunch of gibberish words. (Hmm. A freshness problem and a quality problem?)
You know, we index those too. But we filter 'em out because they're pretty useless. I'm not sure why Google thinks those are good pages to include, but hey--it boosts the numbers! Our algorithms manage to suppress such pages and I doubt anyone misses them.
Believe it or not, coming up with a really good relevancy comparison is quite hard. And it's even harder to get right when you take the humans out of the loop.
So what's the point?
Index size matters, but it's not all that matters. Big index is a necessary but not sufficient condition for getting search right. Good algorithms for finding relevant documents do the heavy lifting required to find the right matches for each query.
We've got some of those too... :-)
Kaigene said it best back when we hit the 1 billion mark in images: "Yes, size does matter. But only if you know how to use it. ;-)"
May the best engine win!
Update: Someone just poitned out that Yahoo! Search now returns a few results for that query--both from Steh's blog. I guess this is more of a Heisenberg problem than I first thought!
Update #3: Also, Gary Price listed several things to consider when trying to measure index sizes.
That's right. We're hiring for XUL hackers at Yahoo!
Send me a resume if you're interested...
Well, it seems that I get to quote Greg Linden a second time today. He points to the Yahoo's Personality Crisis article (subscription only, heh) that's been stirring up a bit of discussion about whether Yahoo! will be opened or closed. Is Yahoo! going to build a walled garden or give users what they really want, regardless of where the content lives: on Yahoo! or elsewhere?
In his posting, he says:
I'm more optimistic than the Economist that Yahoo will be open. Yahoo's recent features seem to trend toward embracing content from non-Yahoo sites. I suspect Yahoo will seek to have the best content on Yahoo, but will pull in good content from wherever on the Web it resides.
Well said, Greg.
If the trend hasn't been obvious in the past couple of years, more non-Yahoo hosted content has been appearing on Yahoo since... well, probably since the early days when Yahoo did little more that point you to other stuff on the Web. Look at what we did with My Yahoo!. Check Yahoo! News. Not to mention the bazillions of RSS feeds we've been pumping out: News, Search, Flickr, Finance, Groups, 360, My Web, and more. Yahoo! is probably one of the biggest f'ing aggregators of third party content in the world.
The day that the walls start to go up around the garden is the day I find myself another job. The Internet is a better place when we knock down those walls--not build them. I want no part of building them.
Plazes fills in a gap in today's IM networks--extending presence to physical locations rather than just "online/offline/busy/custom" status messages.
For example, by creating an account and running their little desktop agent, the page located at http://beta.plazes.com/whereis/jzawodn will tell anyone who cares to look exactly where I am (or where my computer was last connected).
The map overlay and integration of Flickr and local search are already there. I wonder how long before this gets better tagging and IM tie-ins...
It'll be fun to watch this evolve, that's for sure.
The important question is not how many weblogs there are, but how many useful and interesting weblogs there are. Many weblogs are spam, fake, or inactive. Readers don't care about these. Readers want useful news content. So, how many useful weblogs are there?
In fact, the number is probably even lower. Since the 1M number Jim reports is the number of weblogs in Bloglines that have at least one subscription, the number of weblogs that are interesting enough to attract several subscribers is likely much lower, perhaps as low as 100k.
Now this is the part of the post where I'm supposed to invoke The Long Tail and explain that this is all Just Fine.
But the reality is that I don't care. I don't care how many blogs there are and neither do most people. What matters is finding stuff you like and being able to subscribe to, right?
Who is working on solving that problem?
This is the part of the post where I'm supposed to explain that My Yahoo! solves all your content discovery needs, right? Well it doesn't. Near as I can tell, nobody's cracked that nut yet.
The burden today is on the readers and the publishers. Publisher add a growing collection of "Add to..." or "Subscribe on..." buttons to their pages, and readers try all sorts of stuff to find Good Content.
This feels like the 90s all over again, doesn't it?
We need interestingness for blogs and blog posts. Maybe Six Apart should do that for the blogs hosted on their site. (Yeah, I know... they're lacking a lot of the community stuff that makes Flickr's interestingness work.)
I'm going to be flying a 2 seat glider out of Truckee (north end of Lake Tahoe) today, tomorrow, and Friday. Then on Saturday I'll fly the annual Gerlach Dash for the first time (details). We'll launch from Air Sailing on Saturday afternoon and fly to the Black Rock Desert (home of Burning Man), land there, and spend the night at the only motel in town. Sunday, we try to fly home.
Should be a fun weekend. :-)
Most people don't know a lot about parachutes. In fact, I'd venture a guess that most pilots don't know much about them either--unless they've tried sky diving. :-)
Before work this morning, I headed up to Hayward, California to fetch my parachute. Like most glider pilots, I wear one when I fly. Mine is a red and white Mini Softie (just like the one on the right) that's rated for my weight range and doubles as a nice back cushion in the glider.
Hayward is where Allen Silver's company is located: Silver Parachute Sales & Service. Allen is an FAA certified master parachute rigger and one of the best in the world. He does parachute training, repair work, sales, and so on (see his website). He also presents and various conferences around the world. And, if you're lucky, you'll catch him jumping out of a plane at an air show near you.
The emergency parachutes we wear are not like those you see sky divers using. Ours are round and smaller. They have less directional control than the larger rectangular models that you might see during an air show.
The FAA mandates that our parachutes be repacked every 120 days. Allen and a few others have been working to extend that to 180 days (in most other countries is 365). But in any case, a repack is just what it sounds like. The rigger pulls the ripcord and removes the parachute from the pack. He or she spreads it out on a large surface to check for damage or wear before putting in all back together in a very methodical fashion.
I've never needed to use mine and hope I never do. But if I do need to use my chute, the $55 that I spend on every repack will be the best $55 I've ever spent!
An email excahnge that I had this week with a dumb spammer (whose company name I have removed):
Hi , I want to buy your traffic. Please get back to me ASAP. Best, Jeremy LiXXXX Account Manager
Great! There's so much traffic in the Bay Area that I'd love to get rid of. My commute would be so much faster. Please tell me how we can get started on this. Thanks, Jeremy
Hi Jeremy, Well, either the street traffic will get lighter, or we'll make you enough money to buy a Hummer and you can just mow everybody down:) Let me know, when you have a chance, a bit more about your site. Do you have a network? Do you buy traffic? Where does most of your traffic come from? About how much do you see in a month? Looking forward to hearing from you. Best, Jeremy LiXXXX Account Manager
In short: Google news now has Atom and RSS 2.0 feeds for all the catagories and for custom news searchs.
Check it out.
Earlier today I was on a "Search APIs" panel at the SES San Jose conference. I spotted Jason Calcanis in the second or third row. After the session we chatted for a few minutes about flying. He's apparently been up for a few demo flights and wants to get his license when life is a bit less busy. Until then he gets to read about flying on my blog. :-)
What he did not do was ask me for an invite to the YPN Beta. Apparently he should have, since he was just writing and talking about it earlier: Why publishers should (yes *should*) support the launch of Yahoo’s Publisher Network.
In that post he mentions two reasons why some folks might be concerned about using YPN instead of AdSense:
I'm a little surprised by both of those. In the past year, I've talked to a lot of people who use AdSense. In that time one thing has become abundantly clear to me: money talks. If (and I have no idea if this will happen) word gets out that folks who switch to YPN make noticeably more money, there will be a large exodus from Google's AdSense unless they up the ante and match what YPN pays.
It's as simple as that. There is very little "loyalty" at play here. Until now, Google has had a virtual monopoly on this market and YPN may change that.
Mark Jen put it this way:
I think right now there is an inefficient market out there for contextual advertising and Google is the only game in town so they are taking advantage of it and skimming a ton off the top while they can. As soon as other offerings get into the market, the inefficiencies will get worked out and everyone will win.
As far as Yahoo being Jason's (or anyone else's) competitor... I find that amusing. First of all, a paragraph or two later he talks about how "competition is good--very good--for publishers." Even if you are the paranoid type (he's not), you have to admit that the web is a pretty damned big place these days. There's a lot of room for good content-driven sites out there. Just ask anyone using an RSS aggregator.
My take is that anyone who doesn't at least give YPN a try could really be missing out.
Jason: If you'd like an invite, I'll see what I can do. And let me know if you'd like to add an aviation blog to your growing network. :-)
From a friend...
I am writing to make you aware of the CfP for the upcoming Open Source Software & Support Verlag, the producer of internationally renowned conferences such as JAX, International PHP Conference, ApacheCon Europe and others, announces a new conference for the international Free Software/Open Source community:
Open Source Database Conference 05
November 7 to 9, 2005
It is our pleasure to invite you to become part of this new conference by sending you the official Call for Paper. Your submissions would be very much appreciated. Please find further information on the conference and on the submission proceeding below.
The main conference is divided into the following tracks:
Conference topics to be covered are:
Languages, technologies: all (Java, PHP…)
We are looking forward to your submission and wish you all the best!
Andrei provides an excellent tip for Firefox users in Pasting Wrapped URLs:
Here's another Mozilla/Firefox tip: if you copy a URL wrapped over multiple lines from somewhere and try to paste it into the address bar, you will end up only with the first line of it. To fix it, go to about:config and change editor.singleLine.pasteNewlines setting to 3 or add:user_pref("editor.singleLine.pasteNewlines", 3);
to your user.js file. Now all the line breaks will be removed upon pasting.
Excellent! I'd been looking for such a feature.
It seems that Barry is happy with the phone support he got for YPN:
They answered the phone, took the time to review the site, the code and the page it was on. They reviewed everything and determined it was not on my side (I knew that already). They said they will look into it and it looks like they did, since it works.
About a year and a half ago, I announced:
I got the house!
as part of the series of articles I wrote about my house hunting experience in Silicon Valley.
I recently noticed that 3 units are up for sale in my townhouse neighborhood. One is the single story end unit that's at the south end of my building. On my way back from the mailbox this morning, I grabbed the sell sheet from the sign in the lawn and ran the numbers.
Desirable single story end unit in Lincoln Village close to shopping, schools, and commute. Very open floorplan with generous use of windows and high ceilings. Enjoy the benefits of the newer furnace and air conditioning! The washer, dryer, and refrigerator will remain. Oversize two car garage with room for workshop!
The townhouse is a single story, two bedroom unit of roughly 1,250 square feet. Mine is 36% larger than that. They're asking $585,000. That's about 20% more than the bank paid for my place. To put this on level ground, here are the numbers as dollars per square foot:
If my math is right, that's about a 60% price difference from a square footage point of view.
Have prices really gone up that much in the last 1.5 years? It's hard to say until it sells. If there's an open house, I'll likely walk thru to see what condition it's in. If mine is similar, that means it has been appreciating at a rate just higher than 3% per month (60% over 18 months).
Update: They were having an open house, so I dropped by to see the place and chat with the agents. It seems that the kitchen is quite similar to mine, meaning that it's all original (30 years old) equipment with no upgrades. Similar newish paint, carpet, and other stuff elsewhere. They say that if I sold mine, I could expect something in the $650,000 ballpark. That's just nuts.
I'm getting tired of this story. It was amusing for a minute or two, but seems to have stuck around far, far longer than it should have.
Jason Shellen is right.
There is a difference between public data and publicising data.
And the sort of people writing about this on their blogs and news sites should really understand the difference.
Please, lay off Google and this non-story.
Here I am at OSCON, chatting with people i don't see very often, attending sessions, and generally enjoying the atmosphere. Then a BSD Demon walks by, so we convinced him to pose at the Yahoo! booth for a few shots.
After all, Yahoo! *is* largely a BSD shop. :-)
Sorry I haven't had a chance to write more about the conference, but things are just really busy here. Lots of good stuff going on.
Check out Planet OSCON for lots of OSCON blog coverage.
Ping Derek if you wanna come along. It should be good geek fun.
In fact, I've been given 15 minutes to ramble about Open Source and Yahoo! on Wednesday morning.
Update: We'll be going on Wednesday night.
This is most excellent news. As he writes in one of his final blog posts on InfoWorld:
As of the end of this week, I hang up my InfoWorld CTO hat and take a little time off before joining Yahoo! Search, working in the new Technology Development Group led by Bradley Horowitz. I hesitate to describe exactly what I'll be doing since this is such a fast-moving space and I haven't started yet, but I will quote Jeremy Zawodny (one of my new colleagues and someone whose work and voice I have long admired) to give you a hint...
Chad has been InfoWorld's CTO for a number of years now. Not too long ago we began talking to him about possibly joining the Technology Development Group and after he saw what we were up to he couldn't resist. :-)