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Google Zeitgeist 2007

I really enjoy browsing Google’s annual Zeitgeist lists. What is a Zeitgeist list?  Google’s explanation:

To get a glimpse of what’s been on our collective consciousness, we mined billions of search queries to discover what sorts of things rose to the top. We encourage you to check out our findings to see if you, too, reflect the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times.

With a brief glance at the list, I’m not sure it is obvious what is on our collective consciousness. I was excited because I was not familiar with a few of the terms and thought I was in for a cool, learning experience. The excitement was tempered, however, when I discovered that the 3rd fastest rising term tmz is a website that provides an inside look at the latest celebrity scandals. Blech. Read the rest of this entry »

Friending Strategies

Today Mark Cuban detailed his strategy for maintaining a manageable list of friends on facebook in his blog post My New Facebook Strategy and the FB Power Level. facebook‘s 5000 friend limit strong-armed him into concocting a strategy. Peons like me do not have such problems, but if I did I imagine I would adopt a similar strategy. In paring down his list Cuban decided to keep and accept friends who fall into 3 groups: 1-real friends who he knows, 2-people with common interests or a business connection, and 3-the motivation behind this blog post, the “power layer” which is defined as “people who in whatever industry they are in, retain some level of power.” I left a semi-sarcastic comment saying that a new goal in my life is to make the power layer.

Friending is a topic that is discussed ad nauseum on blogs and in newspapers and magazines. The online space certainly adds a new dimension to relationships.  I’m not so popular in the Robert Scoble, Mark Cuban sense that I have the problem of reaching limits.  I would say that I value quality over quantity but frankly speaking most of my friends are of questionable quality.

Enterprise Architecture

Thoughts on Systems Integration, Business Intelligence, & Operational Efficiencies

I’ve been reading quite a bit about enterprise architecture recently, specifically its role in systems integration. The proliferation of disparate enterprise systems at organizations of all sizes has resulted in the amassing of huge amounts of data that is not easily analyzed and thus leaves organizations without the ability to synthesize the data into intelligence and use it to inform strategy. Opportunities for operational efficiencies are also missed because these enterprise systems reside on islands with limited abilities to communicate with other systems. Data is defined inconsistently and housed redundantly, which increases costs and lowers margins.

There are myriad reasons why so many organizations are in this position: the migration to the digital age was/is an iterative process–cost often prohibits the implementation of more than one enterprise system concurrently; enterprise systems are often designed to streamline operations of a particular business unit without regard to how data will be pulled out of the system and without regard to how data will reconcile to existing systems; management by spreadsheets and other rudimentary tools is ingrained in the culture of organizations that are reticent to change what “works”.
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The Democratization of Media & Tracking Visitors on ahelms.com

A couple of years ago I was listening to an acquaintance who works for CNN speak about how what “news” is reported by mainstream media is driven by advertising revenue. It does not matter how trivial or trite the content may be, if it generates revenue it will take precedence over meaningful stories. In the last two years I’ve read The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Friedman astutely and clairvoyantly predicted the democratization of media, which is to say that individuals will determine what is meaningful and what becomes “news”. One such tool that democratizes media at least in terms of online media and blogs is digg, which is a social bookmarking tool. del.icio.us is a similar tool. The way these tools work is quite simple.

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slickr page updated

MSUHi there – the slickr page is updated and now includes pictures from my trip to East Lansing for Michigan State’s homecoming. Enjoy

Note: in order for the slickr slideshow to properly display in Internet Explorer, click on the first photo twice to activate the control and then restart the show. 

How much would you pay for your favorite album?

Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows will be available October 10. In a not entirely surprising move, unconventional Radiohead decided to let fans decide what to pay for its new album. Partially in response to Radiohead’s announcement, Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington blogged about the Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free based on economic theory. I’m no Econ scholar (one per family is probably one too many) so I’ll leave that discussion there, but the argument is compelling.

A discussion I’ve had with friends that’s more interesting to me started with the question, how much would you pay for your favorite album? or if it’s a Radiohead album, your favourite album?

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Stopping Spam Comments by Digitizing Books One Word at a Time

I am constantly amazed at the innovative solutions that developers conceive to solve problems that should not exist. There is a hilarious, R-rated video on youtube that pokes fun at the proliferation of idiotic comments thanks to ignorant people, young people and quasi-malicious spammers. Due to the underwhelming popularity of ahelms.com, the problem I’ve most encountered with comments on this site is spam comments. While I do get some funny quotes from time to time, it is annoying and a waste of resources to read and store computer-generated comments.

In just five minutes I found a very simple, elegant solution to this problem. There are two attributes of the solution that make it incredibly attractive to me:

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More visitor tracking fun thanks to maps.among.us

This morning I read about another visitor tracking tool created by http://whos.amung.us/ on tech crunch. As I mentioned before, I have been using Google Analytics and AWStats to track visitors. The new tool is a widget that displays icons on map for each visitor currently on your site. Naturally I wanted to embed the widget on my site to see how it works. Right now there is one little cross showing up in Maryland.


ahelms.com update – new plugins

I added two plugins to the site today.  On the right-most sidebar I removed the add to technorati button and replaced it with the AddMySite plugin, which gives visitors the option to add the site to their favorite RSS reader/aggregator.

I also added the Social Bookmarks plugin which adds the option for visitors to bookmark particular posts to their favorite social bookmarking site.  Now it is easier for visitors to bookmark and share the quality posts the the recent influx of quality guest bloggers have submitted.

Information Overload:622 Feeds a Day?

Robert Scoble is one of the most famous bloggers in the world. There is a cool video of him on google’s official blog that details how he reviews 622 feeds regularly. Like me, his preferred RSS reader is Google Reader. Check it out.

I was really shocked when Scoble said he only checks the feeds once or twice a day. I only subscribe to about 20 feeds and I check the Reader compulsively to keep up, probably once every half hour. In addition to the personal blogs of friends that I subscribe to, I pull in feeds from:

I also use the aggregated feeds of Google News and Techmeme. So there is a lot to keep up with and I am adding more every day. For instance, I just added the NYT Goal blog today after my wife sent me a link to Jozy Altidore’s latest blog.

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