Monday, September 28, 2009

SMX East rolls in to NYC October 5-7

The countdown is on .... and this blog post is just a reminder for those of us n the Northeast.

Search Marketing Expo East (or SMX East), the search engine trade show from Danny Sullivan (and company's) Search Engine Land (and Sphinn) comes to New York City in less than two weeks.

The 'show' will be held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from October 5th through the 7th.

The complete agenda has been posted here and you can still register here.

Face to face wins the race.

I seriously doubt there are too many people that would argue the fact that networking in person can be a lot more productive (and enjoyable) than sitting behind a computer screen on various social networks.

This is one of those opportunities for those of us in the Northeast that practice within and/or 'keep an eye on' the search engine landscape .... and more.

There have been a lot of changes in search this year. Most notably Yahoo! dropping their search efforts entirely (soon to be partnered with Microsoft's Bing for results).  Google is always making changes.

The industry is very simply more dynamic than ever.

Bottom line?  In my humble opinion ... If you're a web advertiser, SEO, ad agency, or Internet marketer of any kind, you should be there.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another Mystery Google Logo ? - Not Really

Once again this morning, Google users were greeted with a 'slightly modified' Google logo on the (recently super-sized)  home page.

No, someone didn't goof and drop an extra 'L' in the logo, and no, the crew in Mountainview isn't teasing us (again :).

The second 'L' is actually a '1', and in this case .... so is the first.

It didn't take a lot of investigative work to figure this one out.

Mouse over the logo and it says "Google's 11th Birthday".  (Tapping the logo brings a search of Google .. ugh ... on Google ... which doesn't reflect anything about a birthday).

Google has been low key about this one.  Maybe we'll see something on the Official Google Blog this week.   On the last Google Birthday, (the big ten), I wrote this piece over on Louis Gray's blog.

In reality, according to the incorporation papers, Google was founded on September 4th, 1998.

Will it become a news story?  Probably.  Almost every 'special' Google logo over the past ten years has made the news.

So, to the whole crew at Google (around the world) .... and the few Googlers I've come to know (mostly electronically)  over the past few years... Happy 11th Birthday Google!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Overlooked Feature in Picasa 3.5 ?

I was reading with interest numerous articles about Google's latest version of Picasa earlier today.

Coincidentally, I did have a few photos to edit and send by e-mail so I replaced the old version to try out some of the new features.

The new Picasa (version 3.5) adds facial recognition, name tags, easier geotagging, and more seamless integration with Picasaweb.

To those of you that take a lot of photos with your cellphone, or just don't have the time to stop and set camera settings, I wandered across a feature you may want to try out.

The redeye correction automatically finds the eyes!

While this may not sound exciting to you if you're already using more elaborate commercial photo editing software, I found it pretty huge for a free product.  Picasa's right up there now for me with Microsoft's Phototools and

Give it a try.

With gobs of photos now being uploaded from iPhones (and other camera phones) this one feature is an outright WIN.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meta Tags and Rank - Drawing a line in the sand

As some of you know, I've had an 'issue' with the literally hundreds (maybe thousands?!) of 'new experts' that have come along in the past year in the web marketing space.

I've written numerous posts in other places, such as my "Ten things you should ask your new SEO company".

In a post to the Google Webmaster Central blog on Monday, one fact was made 'perfectly clear'.

Google does not use the Meta Keyword tag as part of it's scoring process for ranking purposes.

The post was followed by a video by Google's Matt Cutts (which I've embedded below).  You may want to read the dialog in the comments on Cutts' personal blog and / or the Google Webmaster Central Blog for more questions and answers.

Google has been more and more transparent in recent years regarding their process for getting 'rank'.  I would urge those that think they should be ranking, that aren't, to, at the very least, subscribe to the Google Webmaster Central RSS feed.

Whether some chose to believe it or not, the fact is that SEO is essentially free advertising.  Google currently is over 60 per cent of that market.

The Cutts video is below.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Find Cheap Gas with new Bing Maps Beta

Microsoft has launched a new beta 'Interactive Gas Finder' on MSN.

The new page uses Bing Maps to let you easily view current prices in your area or scroll across the map when planning a trip to see where the best gas prices are.

The new MSN Gas Prices Beta page can be found here.

The page works equally well with most major browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari.

Microsoft Free Antivirus Program Just Weeks Away

In a limited (very short window) public beta release just a few months ago, Microsoft introduced it's predecessor to their paid antivirus program, OneCare.

The team has been very active updating not only the core product but also releasing new virus definitions (almost daily) to beta testers using XP, Vista, and the Windows 7 RC and RTM.

Known as Microsoft Security Essentials, the new program is not intended to be a replacement for commercially available products but rather to "provide comprehensive anti-malware protection from threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits, Trojans, and other emerging threats in a single lightweight anti-malware solution".

The program so far has been effective and uses a minimal amount of system resources and sports a clean and easy-to-use interface (pictured below):

In a letter to beta testers just a few hours ago, Microsoft asked that everyone update to the latest core product (version 1.0.1500.0) prior to the public release 'in a few weeks'.

It seems likely that the launch of Security Essentials is being timed close to, or just before the full public release of Windows 7 on October 22nd.

Additional information on Microsoft Security Essentials can be found on the original page launch page here along with links to a few open forums. (Note: The download link in non-functional at this time).

Members of Microsoft Connect can also access an information channel.

Friday, September 18, 2009

25,000 Flickr Galleries (and more from Yahoo!)

A few days ago, Yahoo! announced the launch of Flickr Galleries.

According to a press post this evening, over 25,000 galleries have already been produced by Flickr users.

Even more interesting in the multifaceted weekend corporate post was the fact that Flickr now hosts over 3.4 billion photos.

(That's billion ... with a 'b').

Indeed, I have often told friends and colleagues that I use Flickr more for viewing than posting.

Example: Looking at a particular travel destination?  Why not look at a few photos from a few people that have actually been there?  There's a (very) good chance you'll find them on Flickr.

With the increase in mobile uploads from a variety of smart (and semi-smart) phones, it's getting to a point where there's a picture of almost everything on Flickr. (This may be getting a little creepy :) Some of the photos are interesting, some fun, others amazing, and while there are numerous competitors, it's safe to say most professional photographers maintain some presence on Yahoo's photo sharing website.

Noted photographer Thomas Hawk recently blogged about his 30,000th upload to Flickr (despite the fact that he started his own competing site some time ago).

Yahoo's press piece this evening also makes mention of the retiring of all older versions of Yahoo! Messenger on September 30th with users needing to upgrade to version 8 or higher to be able to continue using the service.

Details on the Yahoo! Messenger migration and 'Yahoo! Messenger on the Web' are now posted on the Messenger blog here.

The late Friday post from Sunnyvale also includes Yahoo's salute to pirates (Hmm...) ..... and a cooperative Yahoo / Kodak tribute to Hispanic Heritage Month.

The complete post can be found here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ReadyBoost in Windows 7 - It Rocks

With the official launch of Windows 7 just a few weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some overlooked and improved features that were first introduced in Windows Vista.

Far and away the least mentioned and most effective carryover for many may very well be ReadyBoost, particularly in the case of enterprise deployment .. and a  few 'older' PCs.

One of the boxes I tested Windows 7 on would be considered 'legacy' at this stage.  A single core processor, 1 GB of RAM onboard and shared graphics memory.  Honestly, while I expected a little 'search' for some drivers, I wasn't sure if any of the versions would work at all.

The 'Beta', RC, and Enterprise version all ran fine and at about the same speed as XP.  Memory intensive graphics and video were a challenge but still an improvement over XP using the latest Windows 7 drivers.

Then came the magic.


I plugged in an 8 GB flash drive (ReadyBoost certified ... IE: 1 ms or less access time) and dedicated the drive to ReadyBoost via the pop-up dialog.

Microsoft should be talking more about this.  Not only did ReadyBoost under Windows 7 improve overall system performance and speed, but it literally felt like I had changed the CPU or added more memory.  On the same computer, XP was now a very slow 'turtle'.

There was absolutely no comparison in access times, video or graphics.

I'm not encouraging installation of the operating system on computers with less than the recommended system resources but if you 'need' to push one or two boxes on your network to 'the next level', ReadyBoost might be the answer.  (In the chance that it isn't, obviously back everything up first?!).

On to other stuff ... Vista also introduced the 'Snipping Tool'.  After a little networking last night, apparently I'm not the only one that missed it entirely.

Bottom line .... Screen capture (with annotation) is build into the operating system.  Couple that with a significantly upgraded version of yes, Microsoft Paint, and you can actually do some pretty neat stuff without launching another 'big' program.

(Left - 'Snipped' on the fly while writing this piece)

Like any other operating system, Windows 7 is going to behave differently with different hardware configurations.  It's a pretty safe bet that if your box ran well (or great) with Vista, it should not only 'like' Windows 7, but from everything I've experienced to date, it should find all the drivers you need automatically.

Finally a suggestion.  After visiting your PC manufacturer's website, take an inventory of your computer's components and head over to the component manufacturer's website(s) to see if any newer Windows 7 specific drivers have been released for your chipset(s), wireless adapter, audio, etc.

As has been the case for me since the initial release of the Windows 7 Beta .... you may get a very pleasant surprise.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Google Flips, Microsoft sorta does too?

Google today announced a new experiment in Google Labs dubbed Google Fast Flip.

Essentially a collection of websites from newspapers, magazines, already out-of-print magazines (and a few Internet-only resources), Fast Flip wants to make it easy for you to 'Flip' through current front pages of various publications and select which ones you want to view.

Fast Flip's launch line-up is very limited for a product grouped by category but Google is inviting YOUR feedback to this Google News Feedback Form.  (The complete list of launch sources, as of this post, can be found here).

It's almost a given that the initial feedback will come from publications that didn't make the first cut (and/or loyal readers of those publications).

Essentially Fast Flip is a visual aggregator of Google Partner websites competing in a sense with such products as Alltop, TechMeMe and PopUrls, but with a visual flair.  It also appears to be updating very frequently (as in 'almost' real-time) which could be part of the project's goal.

A picture is worth a thousand words?

Also on the visual web-based front on the same day, Microsoft launched it's new Bing search product Visual Search Beta at today's TechCrunch TC50 Conference.

The new Bing search offering brings to mind the visual search product CoolIris (formerly PicLens) with similar functionality. While CoolIris still clearly stands out as a useful, refined, fun and time-saving product, Visual Search gets a different edge by have their own search product integrated.

Both Google and Microsoft continue to deliver new format products, most likely to see if any generate a significant enough buzz to take to the next level.

While Bing's entry today was more fun and interesting to test out, it's a safe bet that hundreds of publications across all media are knocking on Google's door tonight wanting to be part of Fast Flip.

In fact, it's not a stretch to think of a few hard-working current Google partners that might be Fast Flipping out right about now ....

The TweetDeck Directory plus MySpace

TweetDeck has rolled out yet another new version - Version 0.30.1.

Some of the new additions to the TweetDeck landscape:

1) The online TweetDeck (Beta) Directory makes it easy to find people you may want to follow by category going beyond the limited (and somewhat controversial) 'SUL' (or Suggested User List) and .... the directory's individual categories can be added to your Tweetdeck client with one click from the web. (Kinda cool :)

2) The new version of TweetDeck adds support for MySpace.

There are other changes including drag and drop for links and photos and improved support for Facebook.  The complete list can be found at the company blog here.

You can download the latest (free) version of TweetDeck here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Firefox upgrades to Version 3.5.3

Mozilla has just announced the latest upgrade to Firefox 3.5 (now Firefox 3.5.3).

The new version addresses several security issues as well as stability issues.

(Version 3.5.3 release notes are posted here).

Most users will be automatically updated but if you aren't yet seeing the latest version, you can simple click to 'Help' button at the top of the browser and then, 'Check for Updates'.  By the time you read this, you should be seeing 'downloading version 3.5.3'.

The complete list of language and platform specific versions of Firefox 3.5.3 can be found here.

Note: While Mozilla is continuing to urge users of their previous generation web browser 3.0 to move to the 3.5 series, an update for the older browser has been released bringing that version to 3.0.14.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Summer of 2009 : Tech Winners

As the unofficial end of summer arrives (Labor Day weekend here in the US), it's time for a look back of one of the most rapidly-moving chapters in Tech (and Internet) history ... again.

1) Microsoft delivered a very unexpected triple-play.

The Windows 7 Release Candidate was delivered to the public. Most reviews were solidly positive as the operating system prepares to hit the shelves in October.  Many said 'It's what Vista should have been'.  No argument from me but I think it's safe to say that Win 7 was a pleasant surprise on many fronts and the built-in backgrounds (IE: Eye Candy) may be all that's needed to see this operating system have a significant effect on PC sales in the fourth quarter.  With pent-up demand for up-to-date computers looming from the recession, laptops with Win 7 could be one of the biggest holiday items out there.

BING - Microsoft's new search engine opened a lot of eyes.  It wasn't a facelift for the previous search product 'Live'. It was all-new and MUCH better, and has been improving quietly since the launch.  While Bing may never catch the relevancy factor of Google, the multi-million dollar launch campaign helped create a huge buzz.  Will the buzz etch Google search numbers?  We'll see.  Regardless, it's safe to see very few saw Bing coming.

Windows Mobile 6.5 - Being touted as a dramatic improvement to past versions of Windows for Smartphones, several manufacturers are already onboard for the fall launch.  iPhone and RIM's Blackberry could see some competition from Microsoft loyalists and particularly those interfacing with Microsoft-powered company infrastructures.

It's pretty safe to say the Summer of 2009 will go down as one of Microsoft's most innovative seasons in a long, long time.

2) Google. 

Google's search product reached an all-time high in market share. Their ongoing emphasis on relevancy in search results kept 'Googling-it' at the top of the heap.  Numerous Google products exited 'Beta'. Probably the most significant upcoming product from Google that bears watching is Google Wave, but with video chat embedded in Gmail as well as other reasons, it's safe to say that many mainstream users have switched to Google's e-mail service as well.  Google's ChromeOS remains short on details but the new Google browser (Chrome) did etch out a 'real' market share number, in many cases rivaling Apple's Safari.

3) Apple.  The release of the iPhone GS had a two-fold effect on the smartphone market.  Early adopters and those that 'have to have the latest' made the switch to the latest 'super smartphone', while others, feeling the effects of the downturn, could pick up the 'old version' for less than $100 ... a key price point.  There's simply no debating (anymore) that Apple's exclusive with AT & T held back sales but they were (very) potent nonetheless.

4) Facebook.  Surprise ... your Mom's on Facebook. 

Facebook took the mainstream by storm.  While that brought some problems (scammers and the like), Facebook not only now has a massive (daily) user base but new apps (Farmville??) are keeping users there ... and begging to be monetized. To everyone's surprise (and dismay in some cases), Facebook bought the most innovative product on the web the last two years running ... Friendfeed.  Started by a group of ex-Googlers, Friendfeed successfully broke down a variety of web barriers and created a new playing field in 'sharing'. The entire (small) staff was hired, Friendfeed's offices closed and new offices opened at Facebook in less than three weeks time.  Add to all of this, Facebook's Connect ...which was simply the best implementation of a secondary log-in and saw almost immediate implementation by many prominent websites and social networks.

5) Twitter. 

Twitter garnered a mainstream buzz through the media and also managed to find a spot on tens of thousands of websites.  The 140 character real-time network was immediately adopted by media folks as well as marketing companies but average Internet users still aren't 'buying in' on a regular basis.  Twitter continues to successfully overcome obstacles including significant outages (in the early Twitter days) a barrage of 'spammy followers' not to mention a huge DDos attack which probably came as a forward looking wake-up call.

6) YouTube.

Google's YouTube not only saw a respectable percentage of the company's searches but also managed to become the third major social media outlet on most major blogs alongside Twitter and Facebook.  YouTube very well might be Google's next cash cow going into 2010.


While VC's (and certainly banks) reigned in their investing due to the times, many well-known tech personalities either started new companies or changed companies this past summer.  The list is long but it'll be interesting to watch some develop their own niche in the coming months.

Finally ... I'm not big on lists because someone's always left out.  Sure these are some of the biggest names in Tech.  They also moved nicely while others were either quiet and/or repositioning.

Who's next? 

Keep an eye on Acer, IBM and LG.

Thanks to those who took the time to write as I changed occupations in the last two months and SEO and Tech Daily wasn't exactly 'daily' :) ....

Your 'pal' is still here and very concerned about all of you that are being hammered by the current economic climate. Keep the faith!