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Michael Gracie

Really important stuff you must worry about all weekend

Unless you are watching college hoops, playing with the kids, waxing the vintage auto, balancing the checkbook, vacuuming the rug, fly fishing, playing fetch with the dog, sharing a beautiful mountain sunset with a loved one, smoking a fine cigar, taking a backcountry hike, reading a classic novel, [UPDATE INSERTED AT THE REQUEST OF A VIP: ‘mapping with your GPS’] or any of the other useless stuff you might do instead of absorbing the following…

    Technology

  • Social networking is purportedly now more popular than email. I read the report, and it felt mostly like (yet another) Facebook sales pitch. Of course, if Nielson can’t sell the most popular social network on earth, I’ll bet Oprah can.
  • Google sales chief Tim Armstrong is leaving for the CEO post at AOL, and the move is generally being hailed as a good one (at least for AOL). There’s even speculation Mr. Armstrong will have his choice regarding keeping AOL under the Time Warner umbrella, or spinning it out. Either way, I believe one of Tim’s first moves is to find a growing property to rejuvenate AOL’s tired ship – I think that engine should be network of social networks Ning (logic to follow…later…maybe).
  • Finance

  • One trillion dollars is a heck of a lot of money, and it’ll seem that way to just about everyone except a government official writing checks against other people’s accounts that are already long overdrawn. Yep, one-thousand billion bucks, on double stacked pallets covering an area bigger than a football field. Visualize it here.
  • Value investor Ben Graham would think the S&P still too high, were he alive today. Further, that declaration was made by Bloomberg on Monday – the market chalked up a roughly 10% gain this week. Meanwhile, Nouriel Roubini already said there could be a suckers rally – maybe he’s not as tired as I thought he might be.
  • Fly Fishing

  • Bryan Gregson’s 15+ pound pig got a mention in Fly Rod & Reel – I say it’s about time. I was kind of surprised the Madison beast hadn’t generated a little more press, until I read the recent article. See…much as Bryan lives for the outdoors (i.e. he respects the streams, and fish he chases – and conveys it openly), that grand Madison brown died after the catch. It wasn’t bleeding at the gills, or beat with a bat and then slung on a grill. It fought the good fight, but simply couldn’t be revived. For that reason (death) publications shunned the story.
  •    And my take…

  • I’m beginning to notice a pattern: skilled anglers who just so happen to grasp the notion that fly fishing is a sport grounded in “the hunt” are putting up trophies, while a pack of panda-food-slinging, latte-sipping nancy boys jump to high-browed conclusions under cover of their keyboards. It is no wonder kids would rather play shoot-em-up video games than go outdoors – it’s genuine, unlike than the flavor of fly fishing the overzealous Gucci-elite would like to cram down their throats. The player gets a chance to comprehend finality, which is, in fact, reality.

Adieu.

StopBadware strikes AOL

AOL is not having a good summer, so maybe it is good that summer is coming to an end. The company released a slew of search data into the open, then decided to “go free” because it’s subscriber base was disappearing. Ad revenue was the new name of the game, with ad ons like cheap music as a balancing act. Now they get to dance around the fact their free software might be associated with spyware/adware, as StopBadware.org has called them out for funky install/uninstall procedures.

AOL replied, noting that these issues were not such a big deal, and should be fixed forthwith. I agree with the first premise, and am hoping they hold to their word on the second.

AOL releases search data, sets off flurry of speculation

AOL released a pack of search data for researchers, somebody found it, everyone is sharing it, marketers are drooling, and a couple of numbskulls are calling for AOL boycotts.

Ok, folks, quit your pissing. AOL might have made a dumb move here, but this is hardly grounds for a privacy-related lawsuit. The data doesn’t contain personally identifiable information, per se – search identifiers are denoted by numbers, not your name and street address. Yes, there are a lot of search results in there that the average joe might not want out in public, but I just have to say that if you are so bleeping stupid that you are going to open up you browser, and in a single session search for:

1) “child porn”
2) “local cocaine dealers – mytown, USA”
3) “how to kill your ex and not get caught”
4) your name
5) your social security number, and
6) your phone number

…then you likely deserve what is coming your way.

If you are a search engine marketer, I suggest you think long and hard about what you have, and how greedy you are willing to be – someone may be watching you already.

How useful will AOL data muckup be?

AOL blindly released a “noc-list” of sorts, a set of history files on their search results spanning several months, which was freely available on their site for several hours. Now the files are floating around on the internet. People are crunching the data, and some are shouting eureka for the SEOs and PPC arbitrage critters.

Stop and think. While everyone is perusing this data on their MySQL enabled laptops, Google has this stuff too, and a heck of a lot more processing capability to boot. It wouldn’t surprise me if the use of the data isn’t already primed to set off alarm bells in Mountain View the moment some search engine spammer/Adsense junkie starts getting greedy.

The talk is 30 million queries and 20 million click throughs on search terms, from 650,000 AOL users. That’s a heck of a good sample size, if you want to trust the opinion of someone who got a “B-” in Fundamentals of Business Statistics (ok, I partied my ass off that semester).

Yep, someone will get greedy, and I’ll bet they pay for it.

AOL evolving so hackers do too

The Washington Post says AOL is evolving, with an image makeover at Netscape leading the way.

What I see so far is them copying digg, and getting picked on by script kiddies.

If that is the first step in the evolution of a former web giant, I’d say they have “issues.”

***UPDATE***

Can’t blame hackers for this. I wonder how that “everything’s free” thing is going to work out, now that users realize their search results are free to everyone else too.

Security product marketers may not be liars

AOL is now pitching it’s Total Care security protection for PC users. Everyone is pitching something like this, so you need a bold statement to wake people up. It would be nice if a marketing statement had some truth to it as well.

“The Internet is a confusing hostile place for anyone using a PC today,” says Andrew Weinstein, an AOL spokesperson.

Doesn’t get much bolder, or truthful.

AOL quietly flips the paid email switch

AOL has turned on their pay-for-email-delivery service, engineered by Goodmail Systems. You know the one – it was causing a big stink not too long ago.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is still speaking out against the plan, telling folks that the little guy will suffer – little guys like non-profits that AOL already said they’ll give a free ride to.

Of course, the first big guy through was purportedly Overstock.com, which creates a most interesting little circle for the tin foil hat crowd (which is rumored to include the Overstock CEO himself). See, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has repeatedly voiced his contempt for the company while simultaneously catching email flack for his own stance on net neutrality.

You go figure. I say it is just free markets at work, and everyone should get off their ass and figure out how to stay competitive in a increasingly complex world, and quit their bitching while they are at it.

Goodmail seems disinterested in big payoff

Many are calling the AOL/Goodmail partnership just another way for big corporate to make big moola off little guys and gals. If this is so, then I have to ask why Goodmail is rejecting up to 75% of its Certified Mail applicants?

Or is that news just propaganda?

AOL non-profit deal doesn’t satisfy

Although AOL capitulated in the wake of a major campaign against its pay-for-guaranteed-email-delivery plans, rumor has it some folks still aren’t happy.

I am not sure what is up with that, but I’ll bet if AOL just said “here’s the keys – you run the place,” folks would still be bitching. Maybe they should consider beating up on AOL’s ubiquitous instant messaging platform instead. Uh oh! AOL is already giving that away, and (now) then some.
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Game over on AOL pay scheme – or is it?

AOL announced today that they will allow non-profits to send certified email though their system for free, which may quiet some of the recent anti-paid-email movement’s constituents. Or will it?

The next few days reaction to AOL’s move will tell everyone whether folks like MoveOn really care about an open internet, or just want free access themselves. Watch for spin if the DearAOL group splinters.

Or maybe that is exactly what AOL wanted them to do.
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