Paul's Blog

The Well-Grounded Yuppie


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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Washington Times Telemarketing

I was working late yesterday, and I got a call from a telemarketing lady around 6:30PM trying to sell me Washington Times newspaper. I guess I never bothered to register my office number in the "do not call" list. After her sales speach, here's how the conversation took place.

Me: "Do you know who you're calling?"
Sales Lady: "No, I don't"
Me: "This is the office of The Washington Post"
Sales Lady: "Ahhh.....the competition"
Me: "Yeah, sorry, I don't think I'd be buying your newspaper, I don't think my job would appreciate that"
Sales Lady: Slight laugh, "I understand, have a good night"
Me: "You too"

Just thought it was somewhat weird, and share it with you guys.

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Dancing Chicken

Today I randomly came across this site. It's Burger King commercial causing "awareness" of their new chicken sandwiches. It's a webcam of a dancing chicken. You can type in commands and the chicken follows it.

Since I doubt there's actually someone there dancing 24/7 and reading your commands and doing them, it's probably some pretty good programming behind it. It recognizes simple commands such as "sit", "scratch", "dance" and such. I've also tried more complex commands, and it followed some. I was impressed by it following the "kick the couch" command.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Danny Sullivan leaving SEW & SES

For those who is knows anything about search marketing, this is truly the end of an era. One of the founding fathers of search engine marketing, Danny Sullivan, is no longer going to write for Search Engine Watch or host Search Engine Strategies. Is SEW and SES going to be the "industry authority" forum and conference in the next few years without Danny? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Does anyone know what he wanted from Incisive Media that they wouldn't give him? Not to sound too much like a fanboy, but the image of having "Danny Sullivan" in the company itself is probably worth whatever he asked for.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Volunteering in Northern Virginia

I do something nice for other people every once in a while for absolutely no reason. Well, not "absolutely no reason", it could be boredom or Karma building.

I have exchanged a few Emails from "Northern Virginia Family Service", and I am going to start volunteering for them. They have a class where adults go there to learn the skills to get better jobs so they don't have to work in entry-level jobs for the rest of their lives. The class teaches speaking, computers, job searching, resume writing, interviewing, and other type of skills of that nature. It's a class Mon-Fri 8AM-2PM for 22 weeks. By statistics, over 90% of adults who graduate obtain "better" jobs.

I visited them today during lunch. The majority of the students in that class are foreign. I remember when I was young and new to the US, my parents had help from other Chinese people to "point them the way" in their careers back in Long Island. But what if there was nobody to help them with anything? I can definitely imagine this class being extremely beneficial for foreigners who don't totally understand the US customs and work culture. Nobody else will tell them "during a job interview, when asked why leaving the current job, don't complain about the low pay or about the current boss".

Due to my fulltime job, I can only participate in this about two days a week, 8-9AM (before work), but I'd love to participate more, if the experience turns out to be rewarding.

Philosophical Question: Is it still considered an "unselfish act" if the sole purpose of an act is to make me feel better about myself, bored and give myself something to do, or building karma for myself?

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Typo Online Marketing


Today I found a typo (highlighted) on WashingtonPost.com’s local homepage (page is served to local IP addresses), where they misspelled a word in the caption of the front image. They spelled Schools "Shools".

That got me interested; I know there’s a lot of marketing around common misspelled words, such as googel.com (redirects to google.com), but I never knew the same type of marketing was true for typo’s. There actually is a Shools.com all about online schools.

Guess I learn something new everyday.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Product Placement: Smallville

I was just watching an old episode of Smallville today, Tivoed it a few weeks ago, and really noticed repetitive product placement of AOL. It was the episode of the little girl having powers to move and break glass, and every time someone used a computer, they were using AOL. The whole episode is all about giving the impression “sophisticated users use AOL”, from Lex’s incoming video (AOL Video) to Chloe’s investigations (AOL white pages) to a half second flash of AOL’s welcome screen.

With new technology such as Tivos, fast forwards, and automatic commercial skips, this could be the future of TV advertising.

Monday, August 07, 2006

AOL Search Query Log

Earlier this year, the US government wanted data on search queries from search engines. Most search engines gave up their data without a fight, Google was one of the only ones, if not the only search engine, to say "No, I'm not going to give it to you".

AOL was one of the companies that just handed the government search query data. For some reason, they made the information public over the weekend. This is just my random guess, but were they thinking "If everyone has the same data the government does, it would make the data less valuable and therefore we didn't give the US government something that we aren't willing to give to the public"? The AOL screennames were changed into random number ID's.

Enough people were concerned about it to make AOL no longer post the data, and officially say "It was a mistake and a data leak, we had no intentions of sharing that data".

Of course, no-one can protect any information after it's made public, and many people hosted the data on their own servers after downloading from AOL. Here're some places you can get AOL data(500 MB).

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Andrew Simmering

So I was having a chat with my friend Andrew Simmering and we were discussing how the NFL and NBA websites are different. His favorite team, the Cleveland Browns, has its own domain at clevelandbrowns.com, while my favorite NBA team has to be a sub-domain on nba.com (nba.com/knicks)

It’s not just our favorite teams; it’s all NFL and NBA teams. Why is it that NFL teams get their own domain URL’s and NBA teams don’t? I’d appreciate a “fan site” at knicks.com or something, but it’s just a redirect to nba.com/knicks. Now annoying is that?

But on the brighter note, a lot of people watch NBA here, instead of "Go Duke, Go Carolina". The worse NBA team would probably beat the best NCAA team, why wouldn't people watch a sport at its best with the most talented players? I DO understand NCAA try harder, but the NBA teams can beat them with 70% effort. Is the theory behind watching NCAA games "I'm not that great at basketball, I'd like to watch a team play more closer to my skills"?