Where is all my time?

I’ve been keeping rather busy these past few weeks:

  • School, – 18 credit course load is keeping me occupied.
  • r.m.o – Trying to get the r.m.o project to a point where it can be usable. Coming along well, but not quite where I want it, at least yet.
  • Project Aquarius – I’m still working on this one.
  • MacVillage.net Relaunch – No, I’ haven’t forgot, it’s a lot of work. This becomes a higher priority when r.m.o starts to stand up on it’s own two legs.
  • TV – my addiction. I love TV. Especially prime time.
  • Sleep – I try to do that for a couple hours every day if I can. Don’t get much of it, but it seems like a nice thing

Why people shouldn’t be afraid of Gmail

There has been a ton of buzz lately about Gmail, Google’s free email service. 1000 megabytes of free storage, Google Search Technology, and of course all sorts of Google usability improvements. I’m sure Google has stuff still in the labs to enhance it at some point in the future as well, I could see searching attachments, viewing Word, and Acrobat files as HTML, all in the works.

How will they pay for this quite amazing offer? “relevant text ads”. I think most already know what I’m talking about when I say, this, if not check out MacVillage.net which has Google’s text ad service on the homepage.

What is it?

Here’s a really simple summary. Google sells a ton of advertising. And I mean a ton, they sell for their own website, as well as many others. To make sure the ads are effective, they like to “target” the ads. This is similar on other forms of media. For example, on TV, you will find sports and fitness related ads on ESPN, while the Food Network may not necessarily carry the same ads. Why? Because the audience on ESPN is most likely into sports, and fitness. The ads are most effective when people interested in the products. Makes sense right?

Well, Google does the same thing. When it sells ads on a Macintosh Website like MacVillage.net, it targets them towards Mac users, hence you see ads like “Expert Macintosh service”, “Macintosh Support”, “Mac Service & Support”. Because those ads will do good on a Mac website, rather than a PC website. These ads are now worth more to the advertiser, who will pay more to Google, who will in turn payout more to MacVillage.net. Google does the same on it’s own search engine (the right hand side), relevant ads are worth quite a bit, since it’s perfect real estate for advertisers

How do they know what to show?

Google hasn’t disclosed the technology in real detail, but one could assume, their technology assigns keywords to the ad campaign. It then looks at the text of the page that needs an advertisement. If the examines that page for relevant keywords, and places the highest ranking advertisement that fits the page.

So what’s the deal about privacy?

That’s the question of the day. Google’s system is undoubtedly automated. It would be impossible to hire enough employees to screen all data and figure out relevant ads. Your mail is technically handled by many systems that process/analyze it anyway. From virus scans, spam filters, to your mail client just figuring out if it should make certain text bold, underlined, or italics. Or how to process an inline image. Lots of software looks at your mail.

Personally, I don’t see the difference between Google, and Yahoo, Hotmail, or any other mail provider’s technology, except that Google is being smart, and providing a superior service, by selling relevant ads. How is this any more invasive? All Google did was put things together.

Personally, I think some people worry to much about privacy, and not enough about security. Instead of crying because a company put ads on a free service that you choose to use… Why not apply some patches to your buggy Windows computer so a hackers/spammer isn’t using it to flood my email with spam. To me, that’s much more invasive.

Just my $0.02.

Another week done

My goals for the weekend:

Catch up on email/IM’s, bugs I missed while sick (almost done)
See how far away from getting a few blocking problems resolved with MacVillage.net relaunch
Follow up on some forum threads I fell behind on
Revise term paper on technology waste
Securita research (most likely no code)
Reserch for Biology Presentation (anyone have some good info on wolf reintroduction?)
Project Aquarius

Also wouldn’t mind working out, sleeping, and of course watching some TV 😀 .

Fun with todo lists

Todo:

Legal Environments Paper/Power Point
Math Test
Marketing Test
unmangle patch for importing .eml files (it’s either on my laptop or server).
Create Schedule for next Semester

Filling in any spare moment with Project Aquarius, MacVillage.net work, and perhaps a few hours of TV or even sleep.

So yes, I’m alive, but if I’m not replying to bugmail, Email, IM, private messages, forum posts, banging on dumpsters from a county over, look above and you know why. I’m still reading, but not replying unless it’s critical, or I have a few moments to relax.

News Headline System Approaching Beta Tests

I wrote a brand new news headline for MacVillage.net. It’s also RSS based, like the current incarnation, but much more efficient. It will also support more feeds. Thanks to using PHP’s XML capabilities, it processes a feed in half the time of the last version. And because it now cashe’s, and uses a better timing mechanism, it doesn’t reload news sources more than necessary. That means less CPU consumption!

So expect to see more content on the slowly rebuilding MacVillage.net soon. Perhaps by the end of the week I’ll plug the new system into production.

Some fudging, but it’s valid

I’m not done yet, I still need to make some tweaks to the layout, and lots of backend work for the page:

http://home.macvillage.net/

Is HTML 4.01 Transitional Valid. That’s right. HTML 4. Decided XHTML is to much of a jump for now. Perhaps when I redo the templates in a few months I’ll convert, but for now, it’s HTML 4.

Yea for standards. No more crummy HTML. We do valid code now.

Breaks a little still under NN4. I’ll try to fix that later.

Agenda for tomorrow

My continuing agenda:

  • Study for Exams (Legal Environments, Accounting) coming up
  • Write a case study analysis for Marketing
  • Rework how MacVillage.net handles rss feeds, including support for a few more.
  • Fix the b@st@rd!zat!on of the homepage
  • More templating fun

Joy.

Stylesheet fun

Here’s valid XHTML Transitional of a MacVillage.net webpage.

Several individuals a while back commented on my last design as being “old”, “stale”, etc. So if anyone wants to design a stylesheet, or just wants to see where I am right now, that’s it. Yes I know the logo is a dead image, but the logo depends on the design itself a bit.

If anyone’s stylesheet is actually chosen as a primary (or alternate) design, you’ll of course get a mention here, and on the MacVillage.net website during the initial relaunch. Need printable, PDA, etc.

All submissions become my irrevocable transferable property, you get credit in the stylesheet’s source (don’t go crazy, size is important)… So if your an aspiring designer, feel free to hack away.

Or if you just have a few comments on a “feel” or usability issue, I of course welcome that as well. I’m serious, I read them, and take them into consideration. People gave lots of good feedback on previous projects I’ve done, so once again I do it. It’s proven to be quite effective in getting better quality.

So. Feel free to leave a comment (or drop an email, as I know so many seem afraid of leaving public comments here).

Thanks to all.

MacVillage.net Hardcore

I’m starting to get hardcore into MacVillage.net Development, starting what will be the final development push.

Today I implemented MD5 encryption across all logins the system performs. It’s deployed and in production at the time. Also did a few other weeks to the authentication system while I’m in there.

I’m strongly considering going with XHTML for a design scheme for the following reasons:

  • Main target is Mac OS X (duh), and majority of browsers are compliant (Safari, Mozilla, IE 5).
  • Enhance support for wireless devices
  • Bandwidth savings

Anyone want to comment on that decision (still pending), drop me a line, or leave me a comment here.

Also on the agenda this week is some cleanup. I’ve got scripts that have been working since 2000 without me touching them. Some I even forgot they existed 🙂 Great that they work so well, but I keep stumbling upon them. Needless to say, each one poses a delay, as I have to figure them out again, decide if they stay or go, and deal with them appropriately. Hopefully not to many left.

Some technical issues

In my ongoing efforts:

Few more templating tweaks. Before the bulk can be done, a few technical issues need to be worked out. Hope to have those resolved in the next 24-48 hours.

After that, I’ve got several smaller scripts to write/debug/test.

Some Authentication system upgrades. Then some new toys 😀

And, I’ll have a little Open source toy for everyone in perhaps a week or so 🙂 If you run a website, and have digital media, you may be interested… more later.