Philadelphia Wi-Fi Update

June 17th, 2007

In an article on Philly.com 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]

fofRedux

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 (+http://fofredux.sourceforge.net/)

Also, I know who you are… Hi Harald!

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

E-Commerce Update 6/17/07

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

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]

Linked for Email Deliverability

June 13th, 2007

A Yahoo Email Deliverability post was linked to on an article on the Electronic Frontier Foundation Web site.

From the search engine referrals I still see today, people are still having issues with Yahoo deliverabilty, mainly small and medium sized organizations. And while Yahoo has been the backer of such initiatives like the now to be made into an Internet standard Domain Keys, I would hope that pay to send email does not become reality.

Further reading: other Yahoo Email Deliverability posts

[tags] Email, Email Deliverability, Spam, Yahoo, Domain Keys, Pay To Send [/tags]

I have a date on 6/29/07 at 6pm

June 12th, 2007

for this.

Related: What are the odds that I will be able to keep my current phone number?

[tags]Apple, Mac, iPhone, fangirlism, the local Cingular store is just down the street [/tags]

Adsense Arbitrage Sites Shut Down

May 22nd, 2007

Finally Google gets some cahones and shuts these wastes of the Web down.

A quickie explanation, a Google arbitrage is the practice where a user clicks on a Google Ad only to get sent to a site with yet more Google ads. If you’ve browsed the Web, I’m sure you’ve seen these types of sites. The financial model works like this, the publisher of the site would spend say, $1,000 a day on AdWords to get visitors to his site and then see $1,400 in clicks from AdSense ads on his site. So the publisher would net $400. Do this with enough sites, and not only do you make crud on the Web, but you’d pull in some income.

I work with Google AdWords and I’m not surprised (in fact it’s a little late it seems) that this is going down. You see, the arbitrage sites hurt Google’s content network, so much so that advertisers have been pulling ads from it. (High CTR with low conversions.) In the past few months, Google has been reaching out to advertisers, calling and emailing, telling them what a wonderful deal their content network is.

Perhaps after these sites are banned the content network will be worth purposefully advertising on.

[tags]Google, Google AdWords, Google AdSense, arbitrage sites, the crusty parts of the Internet [/tags]

The Machine is Us/ing Us

May 17th, 2007

It is very rare that I’d link to a YouTube video, but this is one of those rare times. A beautifully produced history and explanation of the Internet and the implications for the future, all done by an anthropology professor at Kansas State University.


[tags] The Machine is Us/ing Us, the Internet, the history of the Internet, these five minutes are so worth it [/tags]

Didier’s Drive-by AdWords

May 12th, 2007

Earlier this week, Didier Stevens gave me a heads up on an experiment (if you could call it that) he performed using Google AdWords.

You see, a few weeks ago there was a story written by Brian Krebs at the Washington Post which revealed that Google AdWords was being used as a vector to infect Windows machines.

So, after this news broke you would think that a)Google would do more to police the content of Google AdWords and b)that users would be more attentive in what Google AdWords they clicked on. Not so.

Didier, ever being the smart aleck, set up a Google AdWords campaign 6 months ago with an ad that stated expressly “Drive-By Download Is your PC infected? Get it infected here! drive-by-download.info”. Once the ad was clicked, the user was taken to a landing page which simply thanked them for their visit and logged each visitor. No visitor was ever infected.

According to Didier…

During this period, my ad was displayed 259,723 times and clicked on 409 times. That’s a click-through-rate of 0.16%. My Google Adwords campaign cost me only €17 ($23). That’s €0.04 ($0.06) per click or per potentially compromised machine. 98% of the machines ran Windows (according to the User Agent string).

As a bonus, Google has taken no action against Didier’s curiously worded AdWords ad. Nothing at all. That says a lot about Google’s quality assurance.

I have been working with AdWords for the past couple of years and all that I can say it that I find Didier’s experiment so hilarious in so many ways, I cannot even begin to describe it.

Update 5/16: Didier made Slashdot this morning and I’m seeing traffic from his previous spamdexing post. And for the curious, here’s my original post about mocked up Google SERPS on .info domains and putting mine and Didier’s findings together.

[tags]Didier Stevens, Google, AdWords, AdWords quality control, Windows exploits [/tags]

Apple Store Chile

May 11th, 2007

Well, kinda. There aren’t official Apple stores in Chile, but there are Apple resellers.

Thanks, Bert!

Update: More information about MacOnline in Chile at ifoAppleStore.

[tags]Apple, Mac, Apple Store, Chile, Apple Reseller, MacOnline [/tags]

A no frills kitchen

May 9th, 2007

I sincerely appreciated this article in the NY Times detailing how to outfit a kitchen for about $300. The secret? Go to a restaurant supply store, where kitchen implements are much cheaper than the high end “culinary stores”.

You see, in a past life, I used to sell the high end expensive stuff on the Web.

[tags] Kitchen tools, Kitchen gadgets, Kitchen equipment, Kitchen implements, the real deal [/tags]

Mac OS X Safari 3.0

May 8th, 2007

From an undisclosed source, I got a hit in my logs for what appears to be the newest version of the Mac OS X Safari Web browser. It’s at version 3.0 now.

Http Code: 200 Date: May 08 19:23:52 Http Version: HTTP/1.1
Size in Bytes: 15822
Referer: -
Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/522.6 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Safari/522.6

[tags]Apple, Mac OS X, Safari, Web browser, User Agent [/tags]