Homework

I am under very strict instructions to share this with “the whole world” so I though that the blog was as good a place than any to access the “whole world” from. The reason and what is below. My son Angus was requested as part of his school work to do a piece on “Should Children Do Homework?”. This is what he wrote:

“Should Children Do Homework?

I don’t like homework. It stops people doing what they want to do. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense how kids are supposed to learn with it. We also do enough at school. Maybe we should go to school for longer to do our homework at school. Homework is a bad thing especially for people to learn.

By Angus Gray”

Personally I don’t think it needs to any more than that Angus. Who I might add has some pretty valid points. I might decide that there is some merit in learning discipline but then I had a hard time accepting that homework was good for me.

Angus; I hope that this was “whole world” enough for you. But just to be sure I’ll post it on facebook and share it on twitter as well!

I also added a poll, I thought that Angus might be interested in the opinion of the world:

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Late Night twitter

People love and use twitter for lots of different reasons. But I found this quote today from Leo Laporte, of TwiT fame:

“Twitter late night is kind of a swinging place, full of insomniacs, the caffeinated, and Australians. I dig it.”

leolaporte

Pretty much sums up twitter up-late. The other thing is that us Aussies must be making an impact on the twitter scene. There is certainly a big contingent of Aussies out there that are twitter nuts, so hop to it and see what you are missing. Or check out the Global Geek Podcast twitter special, all about twitter. We even talk about this very aspect of twitter – the light night twitter goings on from Oz.

Part of why I love twitter.

The_Rooster my updates are protected but add me and I might just follow you too 🙂

Font Inspiration: MyFonts

Boycott Image DemoI am not big on fancy fonts and such but I came across a website this week that had a great top 10 list of what they considered the best fonts of 2006.

It is not that I am against fonts or anything like that, I like a nice font. But fancy unique ones have their limitations. For instance if you have a font installed on your machine you can use it all you like, print a letter with it without any problems. But send a document to someone and they don’t have it on theirs and it will bork. They won’t see it. Same goes for a web page. It has to be resident on the machine for the user to see it.

One way around this is to create an image that uses the font. But that changes it as well, it is now an image and is treated as such. Creating a header or logo using a fancy font is not so bad because within the html you can edit the text to reflect the content on the page. This raw html of the page is what the web spiders crawl for indexing.

I heard a podcast this week where there were open questions and one podcaster was wondering why her content was not being indexed. It turned out that the whole page of text that she referred to was an image. She wanted the page to look nice and so that the visitors could see it she made the whole block of text an image. Google does not index the content of an image as far as content is concerned. In all honesty I am after content crap can still look good and some of the ugliest web sites have the best content.

I should also mention as a side point that having a massive number of fonts installed is notorious for slowing down your machine. So be picky with what you install and maybe review them once in a while and cull out the ones you don’t use any more. Saving them to disk is a great idea as you can always install them again if you ever have the need.

So now that I have trashed fonts… I found this nice collection of fonts this week. The Best Fonts of 2006. While I am not sure what the best is based on they are a nice collection. They are from a site called MyFonts and I would suggest that these are what they consider to be the best fonts as opposed to being judged or voted on. You can see the whole collection as an alphabet and you can purchase them if you wish. Must be hard to develop fonts because the ones I looked at range in price from $19.00 to $40.00. But they have some great specials as low as 10 bucks! Cool. What is the going rate for a font anyway? Still worth it if you are after something unique in my opinion.

Looks like a great site by the way lots of fonts and styles to suit anything that you would want to do, 52,454 at last count. I really liked the “more like this” feature that selects fonts based on the one you are looking at. These fonts definitely have a place for the designer and artist. But remember that they have a place and more importantly when and where you shouldn’t be using them.

Best Fonts of 2006

Develop Flow Charts Easily

bubbl.us LogoIt is true that pictures and diagrams can say a lot more than words can at times. A flow of ideas and thoughts, related concepts or how-to diagrams are very effective. But they are problematic to make. Ever tried to produce one? Don’t bother because with bubbl.us you can do it for free on-line.

This would have to be the easiest way to create a bubble flow chart that I have seen for a while. Based on flash without the loud colours, very glad about that. I am starting to like flash more since I have seen developers realize there is a whole rainbow of colours out there and they don’t need to be flashing in your face to be effective. bubbl.us is a fast way to create these types of flow charts or diagrams. Features on offer:

  • Free
  • Very easy to use
  • Automatic or manual placement of bubbles
  • Drag and drop interface
  • Automatic scaling using the mouse wheel
  • Keyboard support for viewing
  • Contextual help
  • Save your charts

There are plans to add things like:

  • Multiple user support
  • Recording brainstorming sessions

A couple of gripes but minor are that while the contextual help is excellent the text is way too small. I also found that the drag and dropping of “bubbles” is not as precise as I would like. A bit of persistence pays off here and you eventually get it where you want it. Apparently you can print your creations but I could not see a “print” button.

I would have liked to have seen these promised features included before release as they may set them apart somewhat from other similar services. I would also like to see custom colours and fonts to be available. This would be great for creating a chart that will match your blog or presentation. Be cool to be able to publish them or send the finished product to someone as well.

I like the speed at which you can add thoughts or bubbles and then being able to edit them later. A very good way to get ideas down in a visual way to refer to later. Maybe create some mind maps for articles or a project. Or just brainstorm a how-to; add the steps at random as you remember them. Then go back and order and arrange the diagram that you want to use. Deleting bubbles is very easy and does not cause a “chain” effect on the others.

Nice site and the presentation is well executed. Include the promised features and you have a very cleaver on-line application that would have a myriad of uses and benefits. Slick interface and intuitive to use. Be nice to see some more collaborative type features. Results look great but could be improved with some minor adjustments. I would commend bubbl.us on the ability to preview the service without account creation, the way it should be done.

bubbl.us Screenshot

How I Read a Blog

I was reading an article about AdSence optimisation, the case at hand was about Guy Kawasaki’s personal blog, How to Change the World. The fact that his blog had traffic that ranges in the millions and yet generated relatively little revenue as a result. The entry goes on to talk about optimising layout for the best ad revenue result.

I disagree with their assessment of the typical “blog reader”. Well it is certainly not me that is for sure. Here is the description that I am referring to:

“A typical blog reader behaves in the following manner – he will first read the entire blog article [provided it interests him]. Then he will either head over to the comments section to leave his feedback or look for links [at the end of the story] to external sites where he can learn more about related products or services.”

Guy Kawasaki Still Leaving Money on the Table [Adsense Case Study]

That would have to be so far from the truth as far as I am concerned (referring to myself that is). The pattern that I take when reading a blog is this. I usually read any blog from my RSS reader. Generally I don’t open up links in my reader as it uses Internet Explorer as the shell. There are at least 284 reasons why I don’t use IE.

So I open the link up in Firefox and take a look. Lets assume it is a blog. I skim read it, never read anything in full anyway. Plus I speed read most things as I have to get through about 3000 articles a week. The content falls into one of two categories. One, a good blog worthy of further attention. Two, good for the primary reference but not going to be a source of primary information around my interests.RSS Logo Large

Any blog that falls into the first category, I will go straight for the RSS button, feed link or whatever to subscribe. I then go back to the Feed Reader. Especially, since that is what opens up now with feed support in Firefox 2. I then finish the subscribing process and continue either reading the blog or what I was doing before the diversion. I may never visit the blog website address ever again and often don’t.

So for me the whole ad placement optimisation is wasted. I can not remember when I last clicked on an ad anyway, either on a blog or in an RSS feed. In addition to this I just don’t like reading blogs from the homepage. I am used to reading RSS, I like it. RSS might be ugly but it is the useful information without the crap and yes that includes ads. Anyway they don’t call it Really Simple Syndication for nothing.

One other thing I would ad is the fact that the blog reading demographic is such that I am surprised that advertising to this group is even effective. They are usually a tech savvy crowd that are far less inclined to click on any advertising. The reputation that advertising has is enough of a deterrent for anyone in my opinion.

But then again these techniques must be effective for bloggers to be talking about and they are mentioned a lot. So who then is it aimed at? I just know that it is lost on me, I am the valued religious reader that gives your subscriptions a boost. Personally I really value these readers as they are the ones that are genuinely interested in what you are saying.

In summary, I am not your average blog reader, given the above description. I am also not saying that these techniques do not work, they must. I would also question the target audience, is it the average blog surfer or reader or is it the accidental tourist? Or does this whole thing mean that I am not average and the argument is pointless?  What are you or who are you?

The Term “Netcast” is Awful

Leo Laporte is using the term “netcast” in his podcast. So much so that he is using it in the intro to his show!

In TWiT Episode 72 Leo even states that the term is:

“…getting some traction”

This is going to be a short post. Not from me mate, I host a podcast, Okay. The term “netcast” is bloody awful and I swear I will never use the term in reference to my podcast.

Drop it Leo, I hate it and I think there are others that agree.

Ugh… please no more traction

Am I on my own here?

UPDATE: I need not worry, I found this on Wikipedia:

“It should also be noted that Netcast is a trademark of Netcast AG, a research firm of Switzerland.”

So basically the term has no future what so ever. Leo is suggesting a term that is already trademarked and could end up getting sued himself!

Will Google Buy YouTube?

Rumours are flying that Google and YouTube are talking turkey. Or is it just hype?

Google is probably one of the few Internet heavy-weights capable of pulling it off. The 1.6 billion dollar price tag is out of my reach, but not Google. In addition to the price tag you would have to assess your ability to pay the 2 million dollar bandwidth bill every month. So in part it makes sense when Google has the infrastructure and the capital to prop up YouTube. However, there are other considerations that any investor is going to have to think about before signing on the dotted line, such as profitability and copyright problems that seem to follow YouTube like the plague.

To say that YouTube is:

…notoriously unprofitable…

Seems a little misguided as you need to be trying to make money in order to be labeled unprofitable. I have long maintained that YouTube is making poor effort on this front, great for users not much good for paying the bills. Without a doubt YouTube has huge potential for profit and marketing opportunity. With over 100,000 downloads per day, excluding straight “hits” to the homepage; there has to be the potential to be profitable. With Google’s extensive advertising base they have the tools, knowledge and skills to make it happen. Perhaps where there has been no substantial business model Google sees “virgin” opportunity and dollars, maybe enough to fight off the lawyers that will turn up.

The copyright problems that are plaguing YouTube at present are a definite deterrent to any potential investor as they would inherit these problems. We all know that there is bugger all on YouTube that is not copyright in one way or another and with record companies saying things like:

“…Universal Music Group has taken a rather dim view of YouTube’s activities. CEO Doug Morris has painted YouTube and MySpace with the copyright-infringer brush, saying that they “owe us millions of dollars” for infringement.”

Investors are going to be more than cautious about snapping up YouTube if it means inheriting a lawsuit for millions of dollars. Having said that they also inherit a deal with Times Warner that could lead to bigger and better things. I’d love to put that into perspective but the details are still a big secret.

So rumour it might be at present, but that is my take on what it all might mean and only time will tell as to if Google will shake on any deal with YouTube.

Check out The Global Geek Podcast this week as we touch on YouTube and it’s future.