New theme thoughts

I’m thinking of changing my wordpress theme.  Any thoughts. I like my grapes, adapting this theme to include a few grapes and a slightly vineyer leaf would seem to be pretty cool. Anyone hate the idea? Thoughts most welcome.

More website ranking fun

Following on from this post about website ranking standards, I have found a new toy.

dnScoop provides another wideranging rating for your website, taking into account a stack of search metrics. The output is a value for your site in $s. Apparently the blog you are reading is worth $121. I’m rich!

On one level it’s a shameless attempt to earn textlinkads referal revenue, but good luck to them. Assuming WordPress.com doesn’t eat the code (it did!), here is an example of the output.

My Site is worth $121

How much is your site worth?

Youtube still doesn’t work for me

So Googles enemies are circling, planning an avalanche of quality content and exciting technology. Great.

I’ve been thinking about TV a lot recently. Apart from about 3 shows a week I hardly watch TV, despite recently buying a new LCD that barely fits in my lounge due to an old CRT exploding. I watch the odd Daily Show clip that catches my eye. And thats it. So why do I want to watch web TV?

The answer, to me, seems to be so that I will see the first episode of the next Office, or Peep Show sooner than the mid point of the run. Social networking, peer recommendation, the digg of teevee – whatever you call it – it has to be immediate, twittery, and so highly targeted that it squeals.

The point of squeal, for me, is the point where as I watch a new show I can immediately flow it into the top 10 of my contacts who I think will enjoy it. And where doing that will bump this show up the general list for people tagged similarly to those friends I sent it to. I don’t want to pick what I watch, I’m too busy doing other things, I’m quite happy to have my friends tell me which episode of the  Daily Show was funniest this week.

If this new play can tackle that problem and deliver it on my lounge screen and my office screen then it will work. But I doubt it can. Maybe one of the tiny players can truly nail that challenge in Meta and take a steal as the natural home for hyper niche new content. Just a thought.

Visualisation automation for work and movies

One of the biggest challenges I face on a regular basis is how to convey relatively simple financial projections to the number blind on my board. Graphs, charts, slaps in the face, all fall on deaf ears. Eventually I’ll hit on something that makes them go ‘oooo okay yeah I see what you’re saying’. Eventually. Using Excel this can take forever.

Take a less straightforward dataset, say the behaviour of a set of users of one of our systems which leads me to propose a certain change to a process. How do you convey THAT without a week of ‘I don’t get it’.

New toy time.

The ‘many eyes’ project has some nice examples. The holy grail of visualisation has to be an automated system which you throw a dataset at, and it proposes an endless sequence of possible visualisations. I have a big screen, show me lots of options. The following is a very wordy example:

holy grail

Words used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Obviously. It’s a tag cloud. Big deal.  Hitting the ‘visualise using this dataset’ button brings up a stackof options. I can think of a dozen nice ones that aren’t already there. One frustration is that it doesn’t filter out the plots that the data set wouldn’t support. Even better would be a wizard to give you options for creating the data elements that you need to make a certain plot. For example I could define an X axis as the Scene and the Y axis as the distance through a scene. I could then visualise the data above in relation to how far through the movie the words were. Bottom left are words that appear early in the movie and the scenes. Top right are closer to the end of the film or scene. I’d guess the punchline words will be further to the right and top.

Plot this for a thousand comedies and you should certainly see if the punchline zone top right has interesting language in it, or just terms of ridicule. I’m off on the hunt for more projects, but if you know of any drop me a note. Link (via)

Web makes world more valuable

I had some stuff in storage at one of those self service storage warehouses last year during an office move. I hated the whole experience, the sleazy sales guy, the overt security, the swipe cards, the overpriced padlocks (non refundable). The opaque pricing was the worst. I actually left thinking ‘someone I know must have a room / cupboard / attic / basement’ I could be shoving this stuff in.

http://storeatmyhouse.com/  does exactly that, the ebay of space! I haven’t tried it but I’d be tempted if I have the need again. You can sell space and buy space. It’s as simple as that. Even the about us page is simple to the point of almost not even being there! “We’re just some simple guys who want to make finding storage space easier for everyone.” Securing the web earth interface seems to be a worthwhile activity to me. Tie this service into an eBay ‘trust’ service, and even OpenID style web accountability and the one major inhibitor (trusting someone else not to mess with your stuff) should disappear.

I found store at my house at the techcrunch forums.

Flickr collections – sometimes it’s the smallest things

I’m so happy. I can finally pull my Flickr photos into shape. Roughly 2,000 photos, loosely gathered into Sets. About 80 sets. With no way to collect these sets, until now.

While Flickr continues to run too slowly at peak times, to take forever to load on occassion, and to drop my uploads from time to time I still use it. It just feels nice when it works. And everyone I know understands what I mean when I say ‘it’s on Flickr’. That’s worth a lot. But this has bugged me since I first used it. Folders have existed for a loooong time. Collections are just folders. Sometimes it’s the smallest things…

Website Ranking Standards

For a long time now I’ve run a Firefox plugin (SearchStatus) that shows me Pagerank and Alexa information in the status bar when I visit a site. Sometimes I pay attention to these, but I always check them out for startups, as they give a useful insight into how long the sites have been active, how well they are linked, and a vague ‘doing well’ feel.

Technorati rankings seem less relevent than before, or is that just me? A new (to me) ranking that I love the concept of is SEOmoz (found via stevenmilne). The advice for this site is:

Your website/page is a relative unknown. Search engines and humans are (for the time being) infrequent visitors. Consider the accessibility of the URL, the desirability of the content and your marketing efforts online; all can have great impact on your reach.

Using data gleaned from Yahoo, Google, Wayback machine, Alexa, Technorati, del.icio.us, DMOZ and Wikipedia it constructs an overall score out of 10. This site scores 1 (unsurprisingly), techcrunch scores 7, apple.com scores 8. I’ll find a 10 eventually, I’m sure of it.

The ever present wigit to add to your page is also provided, shown here:

Page Strength SEO Tool - SEOmoz.org

Note that the image isn’y dynamic, so as the score changes it will stay the same. So I could easily cheat and use the following badge:

Page Strength SEO Tool - SEOmoz.org

I realise to reprocess every time an image is presented would be a huge resource drain, but to serve a saved value for 7-14 days and then reprocess would be reasonable. Or fix it to the number of requests which could also be fed into the page strength value.

Other than that small gripe Page Strength has, I think, got a reasonably good potentil to become a new standard and join PR and Alexa in my browser Status Bar as information that I just want to know. Now.