Archive for the 'Internet' Category

Email Deliverability - trends for the end of 2007

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Two trends I’ve run across recently in the email deliverability world.

First, and this is for you designers who have to work on HTML email campaigns, the Email Standards Project. Because, let’s face it, the need to use old school HTML 4 for compatibility with current email clients makes baby jesus cry.

It’s been kind of quiet on the spam filtering front, aside from the proof of concept .ogg and .mp3 spam. In real deliverability terms, from what I’ve been seeing, there seems to be an increased reliance on URL filtering and on sending IP reputation.

And with that in mind, I was sort of amused to get the following text based email body in my inbox last night. It seems that the spammers are giving up on live URLs and are hoping you’ll be intrigued enough to open a Web browser, find a stock trading site and buy a penny stock.

Hi from Christian . Hope your Friday is cool and happy holidays. Something big for [SOME STOCK] over next few weeks. Check otc boards. Keep an eye out for it and get in early.

Hey, I’m just impressed the guy wished me happy holidays.

[tags]Email Deliverability, Email Standards Project, HTML Email, Email Clients, SPAM, Text based email[/tags]

Yahoo Store Shopping Cart Goes Down, Owners Howl On Cyber Monday

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Good grief, Yahoo Small Business really fouled it up big time on “Cyber” Monday. It seems that the shopping cart for both Legacy and Merchant Solutions stores went down for at least 11 hours. Holy Moly.

Considering the types and size of stores that use the Yahoo platform, you’re talking a good guestimate of thousands of dollars lost per store. I’m sure people will be looking for alternate solutions after this.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Yahoo e-commerce store offerings, there are actually two types of platforms, the old pre-2004 legacy stores that are built upon proprietary RTML based templates and if I remember correctly, I believe this platform was bought by Yahoo. Needless to say, RTML is an incredible pain to work with and there are a few small businesses which specialize in RTML programming.

The newer Merchant Solutions stores feature HTML based templates, but doesn’t allow for as many products in a store because of performance issues. And yes, Yahoo charges a per product insertion fee.

From what I’ve read, there was a big update pushed to the stores just before Q4, which included an updated shopping cart and cross sell functionality. Apparently some legacy stores which reverted to the old cart during the outage did restore functionality.

When I worked on the platform, Yahoo tech support was wanting in many areas. Aside from the hold times, a clueful tech was hard to fine and system status messages were not at all verbose. For some reason, Yahoo tends to push updates all the way up to Thanksgiving (I’ve seen it happen when I worked on this platform) and it seemed like this one was a doozy.

The official word out of Yahoo so far is not enlightening, but the store owner comments are. After reading about the outage, I agree with the owners, there is no excuse for Yahoo whether it was traffic or a borked shopping cart.

Google Page Rank drops for e-commerce

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Has anyone else seen Google Page Rank drops for e-commerce sites during this most recent PR update?

I’m beginning to wonder if Google is trying to degrade SERPs for specific products.

Google Start Page for iPhone?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I was hit with this referrer string by an iPhone using visitor… URL makes me think that it’s an up and coming iPhone specific Google start page. The IP was from the AT&T network.

iPhone Safari User Agent

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Because you all knew I would post this…The iPhone User Agent

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543a Safari/419.3

chinashch referrer

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Has anyone else seen this? This referrer is kind of strange in that the IP address belongs to AOL, but if you browse directly to the base IP address, you get what looks to be some sort of portal page for a Chinese TV network and the /advice.php page doesn’t work at all.

The whois for doesn’t show any relationship with AOL as far as I can tell.


Http Code: 200 Date: Jun 27 18:32:21 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 11800
Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.2; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)

Http Code: 200 Date: Jun 27 18:32:22 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 9738

Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.2; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)

[tags]referrers, AOL, Chinese language Web portals [/tags]

Fooky This

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Fooky is a new search engine that is trying to poise itself within the search engine market with guns blazing. I have to give them props though, instead of just being yet another indexing service, they are trying to force a little change in Web Marketing, including offering a PDF on what they consider Web Marketing basics and dissing those SEOs who promise top Search Engine Results Page rankings.

Aside from their idea for a Command Phrase, by basically allowing a Web site owner to “own” particular keyword phrases on, the search engine is also only allowing site submissions that fit their criteria. As far as I can tell, this means Web sites that are meta tagged with Title, Keyword and Description tags. While properly formatted Title tags and Description tags are a must these days, Keyword tags are basically a nice to have (and could cause problems on other more popular search engines if you get aggressive about deploying keywords).

I think competition in the Search Engine market is a good thing. While I don’t necessarily agree with some of the more outlandish SEOs, I’m not sure if Fooky has the total answer either, especially with requiring meta tagging. Perhaps the idea behind that is to slow down the submission of spammy sites, who knows?

Good SEO is presenting information to the Search Engines and getting visitors because of that. Great Web marketing is the art of having those visitors to convert to your desired action.

Also, Fooky can’t find the cleverhack description tag, so I do believe they still have some work to do with their indexing.

Http Code: 200 Date: Jun 23 08:18:51 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 65921
Referer: -

quick and dirty network tools

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Ever since DNSStuff went to a membership/paid model, I’ve been looking for a replacement of the quick and dirty network tools they offer. (And yes, I do know that I can already do some of what DNSStuff does via the command line. I just like having these things available in a browser tab for some reason.)

In that vein, I like

Has anyone else found any other Web based network tools replacements?

[tags]Network Tools, Ping, Whois, Traceroute, Blacklist lookup [/tags]

Philadelphia Wi-Fi Update

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

In an article on today, there was an update on the Philadelphia municipal Wi-Fi project that is being built and soon to be deployed fully, starting in July 07. The system will provide outdoor and indoor access, and while you need to have a wireless capable computer, for guaranteed indoor service an EarthLink supplied Wi-Fi modem is needed. EarthLink, the ISP building the system, expects 5,000 subscribers in July and 12,000 subscribers by years end. I’d say that is an aggressive subscriber timetable.

Being curious, I nosed around the EarthLink FAQ for the municipal Wi-Fi service and found a few interesting tidbits.

1) To use Wi-Fi indoors, you are strongly recommended to purchase the EarthLink Wi-Fi product (i.e. the monthly fee plan which includes a Wi-Fi modem) to ensure you have a signal in your home. However, if you live on the upper floors of a high rise, you may be out of luck since the Wi-Fi signal may not reach there.

2) The Wi-Fi service is intended for use by one computer at a time. So, say you’re a multi-computer household, by the way this FAQ reads, you’re out of luck. In fact the EarthLink FAQ doesn’t address such a situation, only to say that if they catch you, “you will be charged $1 for every hour (or part of an hour) that more than one person is connected via your account. This service charge is capped at $21.95 per month.” Nice. Although later in the FAQ, EarthLink provides instructions on working with a home network, so as long as you have a router behind that Wi-Fi modem, you should be ok.

In another piece, two Inquirer reporters tried the outdoor available wireless in the current 15 square mile testing area. According to the article, sometimes the Wi-Fi worked and sometimes it didn’t. And honestly, I have yet to see a Wi-Fi system that reaches 100% saturation everywhere.

Outdoor Wi-Fi access in Philly can be purchased through Earthlink’s Feather product - with access available from 1 hour, 1 day and 3 day increments.

[tags] Philadelphia, Philadelphia wireless, Philadelphia Wi-Fi, EarthLink [/tags]


Sunday, June 17th, 2007

From the sourceforge page, FeedOnFeeds-Redux (FoFRedux) is a continuation of the popular, but stagnated FeedOnFeeds project. FoFRedux provides a simple, yet effective browser-based news aggregator.

Agent: fofRedux/0.3.x (+

Also, I know who you are… Hi Harald!

[tags]RSS, RSS Reader, RSS aggregator [/tags]

E-Commerce Update 6/17/07

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Two stories from the E-commerce world that I thought were interesting.

The first story from today’s NY Times alarmingly discusses the fact that E-commerce growth has slowed greatly in the past year. E-commerce as a whole will only be about 5% of total retail sales and is expected to grow to about 7%. This trend does not surprise me at all.

In the past, E-commerce grew because we had all of these players entering the field, trying out some new paradigm changing business model and watching what would stick. We saw clever business models, such as Amazon and not so clever ones.

But what goes hand in hand with a business model and what I think many online retailers initially ignored is that E-commerce works when there is a need that can’t be fulfilled or is hard to fulfill in a local store. Think about it, to shop online, you need to log on, then research a couple of stores, then choose your items and put them in the shopping cart and then reach for your credit card and checkout. Oh, and lets not forget the tracking and waiting for the shipment. Tasks that are time consuming.

In addition, E-commerce sites have to fight the perception that they are more expensive that traditional retailers because of shipping prices. As I’ve noted before, the most effective E-commerce promotion is Free Shipping.

Because of the perceptions of time and expense, E-commerce is indeed a different animal than a traditional retail store. In the E-commerce B2C sector where I worked, our best sellers time and time again, were the hard to find items that weren’t usually stocked anywhere else. And let’s not forget the sales we had from some sweet, sweet Search Engine Optimization. (Indeed, just because we were first in the search engine result pages for certain keywords, we got sales.) In addition, we always saw spikes around the gift-giving holidays for third party ship to orders.

The other interesting trend for the larger retailers is the local store pick up option, which definitely makes sense if you’re comparison shopping for a specific item and need it immediately.

Getting a little bit more technical, I was intrigued by this article in EWeek chronicling the dilemma that E-commerce sites have when testing credit card systems. The article states that many sites use old customer data to test merchant systems, which is scary.

You see the conundrum is that the merchant payment gateways don’t provide test data for retailers and if you’re testing real time card processing systems - online as well as offline, you want to see where the data goes (in this case where the money goes) before taking your systems live.

There are dummy credit card numbers you can use to test your systems, so you can see the numbers go through the gateway system but these are invalid numbers which won’t test bank processing.

Mac OS X Web hosting

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

I hadn’t realized it, but there are companies which provide Mac OS X based Web hosting, aside from Apple’s consumer oriented .Mac service.

[tags] Mac OS X, Web Hosting [/tags]