October 02, 2003

Flying Blog Catchup

After being far behind, I finally sat down to catch up on the last month's worth of posts to my flying blog.

In chronological order:

Check 'em out if you're into that sort of thing.

It feels good to be caught up. Let's see if I can keep it this way.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:05 PM

Yahoo! Messenger + Search

The windows version of Yahoo! Messenger has the ability to use Yahoo-developed plug-ins known as IMVironments (or IMVs for short). It's been there a while (a year or two now), but I've never really cared because (1) I don't use Windows much and they only work on Windows, plus (2) most of them seemed to either aimed at media brainwashed teens (the Lizzie McGuire one is a good example of this), were outright advertisements (Purina Dogs, Friskies, T-Mobile, Panasonic), or comics (Dilbert, Garfield).

But recently a useful one was added to the mix: The Yahoo! Search IMV. It basically integrates Yahoo! Search with instant messaging so that you can search with other people in a collaborative and real-time fashion. It's one of those things that seems obvious the first time you see it. Now I wonder why everyone hasn't done it.

So if you end up in IM conversations that often generate the need to search for something on-line (I always seem to), this could be quite useful. And if you're not a Windows user, well, pester to folks at Yahoo! to add IMV support to the Mac and Unix clients.

Hey, JR even likes it.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:13 PM

October 01, 2003

Sweet Google Justice and Injustice

First, the good news. Morgan wrote to inform me that the #1 result on Google right now for "pure evil" is my blog entry about VeriSign. Apparently we've managed to convince Google that I'm an authority on pure evil. Heh.

Gotta love the power of weblogs, no? :-)

Maybe, just maybe, the Register was on to something. Maybe.

Second, Russ tells a tale of Google AdSense that's not encouraging.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:56 PM

September 30, 2003


Okay, here's a bunch of stuff I've managed to collect recently but don't have tons of time to blog about.

There, I've flushed my buffer. I feel better now.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:52 PM

Damn, I love KQED

Al Franken is on City Arts & Lectures rignt now.

Kick Ass!

My pledge dollars at work...

Posted by jzawodn at 08:05 PM

We're All Smoking Crack in Silicon Valley (and Getting Rich)

Or that must be what it looks like to your average corn farmer in Nebraska.

I don't read the financial media much, but having spent 3 years working on Yahoo! Finance, it's hard not to do so once in a while. I came across a story today titled "Is Google worth as much as Yahoo?" by Bambi Francisco (love that name).

As is often the case with CBS MarketWatch stories, it goes into quite a bit more than the headline might lead you to believe. In this case, she spends some time discussing Google's self-appraised valuation of $17-$19 billion and then draws to a close with:

At the bandied-about price, Google would also be valued at a slight discount to Yahoo and possibly greater than Amazon.com. Both of those are arguably mature, established, not to mention older, companies with relatively proven track records.

And then she turns her focus to Friendster.

Google's outlandish valuation is likely why Friendster, the fast-growing online dating/social-networking company, is leaning towards accepting funds from blue chip venture capitalists rather than selling to the search company, according to those familiar with the situation. The word is that Friendster had conversations with Google to be bought out for about $30 million to $40 million in Google stock at an $18 billion market valuation for Google. At that price Friendster's upside may be limited, to say the least.

Of course, she reminds us that

Friendster has yet to post sales, much less a profit. Yet Friendster has apparently secured $13 million in funding, giving it a valuation of $53 million. Jonathan Abrams, Friendster's founder has not returned my call seeking comment.

If that seems a bit insane, we're reminded that:

InterActiveCorp's online dating services, including Match.com, Udate.com and Kiss.com, have 857,000 paying subscribers, as of the end of second quarter. IAC estimates that its online dating services will earn $38 million in cash flow this year, up from $28 million. Applying a 20 multiple on cash generated would give IAC's dating business practically an $800 million market cap, if it were a stand-alone company. This back-of-the-envelope-valuation exercise makes a potential market cap of $50 million for Friendster far more reasonable, say those familiar with the situation. That's because Match alone has 9 million subscribers (only some are paying subscribers) while Friendster has 2 million subscribers.

Valuations are funny things, aren't they?

[Disclaimer: I know several of the guys at Friendster, including Jonathan. I mean no disrespect. They're working hard to build a company and a service in shitty economic times. I just can't help but to be amused by this Google inspired flashback to the late 90s.]

Posted by jzawodn at 12:21 PM

September 29, 2003

Politicians and Weblogs: I couldn't care less...


With all due respect to Dave, who seems compelled to broadcast the arrival of every new political weblog, I really couldn't care less.

Actually, that's not true. I think that if I see another politician's face or campaign slogan on the front of a weblog, I'm gonna be sick. So I guess I do care. A little.

I really don't understand all the excitement. Another political candidate has decided to add "weblog" to the list of ways that he and his campaign staff can pollute our lives with more political bullshit. Yippie!!! As if that somehow validates or improves the image of weblog technology or the candidate.

Far from it.

Same shit, different medium.

Maybe the ratio of talk to action will someday improve in politics enough that I'd bother to pay attention, but I don't think an installation of MovableType and an RSS feed are going to do the trick.

No thanks.

What next, IM chat sessions with a candidate?


(Don't take this the wrong way, Dave. It's not you. It's the politicians.)

Posted by jzawodn at 05:29 PM

September 28, 2003

Blog Comment Spam on the Rise

Yesterday Jay noticed that I was having a comment spam problem. A few low-life moron assholes have been using my blog to try to boost the PageRank of their various businesses: search engine optimization, porn, and cheap prescription drugs.

He suggested that I look at his Killing Comment Spam Dead posting, which contains some very good ideas and pointers to prior art, such as queuing submissions, url matching blacklists, form tricks, and Mark's discussion of what most approaches suck.

After looking over it all and getting sick of censoring things myself, I'm not sure what I want do do about the problem. I've considered:

  1. turning off comments (bad)
  2. turning off comments after an entry is more than a few days old (might help, easy to do)
  3. sending confirmation URLs via e-mail to the poster (valid e-mail address required but not displayed on the site)
  4. writing a bit of content scanning code (there are certain features in common with all my comment spam)
  5. keeping all comments for each post in a separate file that's included at display time via an IFRAME or FRAME in the page. Then I'd drop in a robots.txt file that tells Google to ignore all comments. That'd defeat the spammer's main goal: higher PageRank.

But so far I haven't decided what to do. I'm inclined to try #2 and #3 but am still mulling things over and deleting 5-15 spams per day.

#5 is interesting and, to my knowledge, I'm the first to suggest it. Anyone else tried this yet? There are a few more tricky variations I'm thinking of too, such as noticing googlebot requests and feeding them slightly different content (hyperlinks stripped from comments, maybe?).

Would any of you frequent comment posters be offended by having to click a URL that arrived via e-mail to confirm your posting? What if you only had to do it once--ever? Think of it as lightweight semi-anonymous registration.

I'm not saying I'm gonna do it, but I clearly need to do something. I just need to figure out the right compromise between (1) keeping things free and open, (2) wasting my time, and (3) wasting your time.


Update: I've been using Jay Allen's cool MT-Blacklist for the last few weeks. It's not perfect, but it does 95% of what I need.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:53 PM