Time Magazine Ranks “50 Coolest Websites”

The article is here. There are several that I’ve never heard of, so I plan to try them out over the next couple of days. But what jumped out at me as either missing or an odd inclusion?…

Under “News & Information”, how in the world can they ignore Google News? I think it’s an outstanding service – I check in on my custom feeds several times a day. Under “Staying Connected”, is Google Spreadsheets really worthy? And what the heck does a spreadsheet have to do with “staying connected”, regardless of the fact that it’s a web-based tool rather than living on your local hard disk?

Do we really need a “Time Wasters” category?… Am I the only one who doesn’t have time to play around with things like this?!

Finally, under “Web Search and Services”, I guess Google doesn’t rank on the cool meter anymore… As far as I’m concerned, the simple interface and reliable results mean Google will always be cool to me. Plus, with slick enhancements like Google Trends, it’s hard to see how this falls short of Time’s Coolest list.

Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day

Willem Knibbe of the Sybex team recently published a book entitled Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day. A copy of it hit my desk recently and I decided it’s a “must read.” I’ve never really explored SEO for my blog, but I think it’s time. This looks like the perfect book for my needs. It’s written by a couple of SEO experts (Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin) and the content is delivered in these bite-size chunks, hence the title. Be sure to check out the authors’ Your SEO Plan website, which contains excerpts and templates, among other things.

Pew Report: Content Creators are Almost 50 Million Strong

According to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “48 million Internet users have posted content.” Sure, some of this “content” is nothing more than a few photos of the family vacation, but it’s clear the web is rapidly evolving from what was primarily a read-only platform to much more of a read-write one. Other highlights from the report include:

Home broadband grew by 40% from March 2005 to March 2006, from 60 million to 84 million.

DSL is now the dominant broadband connection method, representing 50% of all home broadband connections vs. only 41% for cable. (I’ve got to dump this darned $100+/month cable habit…)

The average monthly service bill for DSL in December 2005 was $32 vs. $41 for cable. (Yet another reminder to dump cable…)

Despite all the hype, only 3% of online users say they use a VoIP service at home. The report shows awareness has gone through the roof, but it’s clear this one hasn’t “crossed the chasm” just yet. Maybe that’s why I haven’t seen so many Vonage commercials on TV in awhile…

More than half of those still using dial-up (60%) apparently are quite happy and have no intention of moving to broadband anytime soon.

Search Engine Marketing for Publishers, by Pamela Springer of ECNext, Inc.

Pamela Springer, President and CEO of ECNext, Inc., offers a free e-book titled Search Engine Marketing for Publishers: The art of being found online.  ECNext also offers a couple of interesting looking white papers on other topics.  I plan to keep an eye on ECNext for additional insight in the future.  I wish they'd start a blog...

Publishing Hacks

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from Robbie Allen, a fellow who has a blog called Publishing Hacks. I’ve spent the last few days reading through many of his posts and I would encourage you to do the same. Several of the 11 items covered in his Internet Publishing Manifesto are topics that have also appeared on my blog. He also recently started a series of posts on problems with the print publishing industry.

Thanks for the message, Robbie. Publishing Hacks is now in my Bloglines feed and I plan to keep a close eye on it.

eBay Insanity

I admit it. I’m a complete eBay novice. I’ve only bid on two items up to now, but the results have me scratching my head. I wanted to get my son a set of drum practice pads because they’ll enable him to keep playing while the rest of us want some peace and quiet. These sets are often available on eBay, so I started bidding a week or so ago…

I guess the bidding pattern is pretty common: The initial price is well below the true value and doesn’t budge a whole lot till the bidding is about to close. Suddenly, within the last 10-15 minutes people go absolutely nuts and wind up paying a price that’s at or above retail value! For example, the last set I bid on was hovering around $100 until the final 15 minutes. It closed at $177.50. Guess what? I found a comparable (and new!) set on Amazon for $9 more. In fact, when you roll in the shipping charges for both, it’s a wash.

Why in the world do people pay sticker price for a used product?! I can see where it’s possible to make good money selling things on eBay, but I wonder how the buyers feel when they figure out they overpaid? Does the winner of this particular auction even realize their boneheaded move, or are they mindlessly walking around talking about the “great deal” they just got on eBay?


E-books and online accessible content have both been popular topics on this blog. While I wait for the perfect platform and device to arrive, I thought I would take a closer look at one of the more popular existing solutions: Books24x7.

Books24x7 has an impressive array of online content offerings for anyone in IT, engineering, sales, marketing and more. Unlike pure e-books which are delivered to you as a large file (e.g., PDF, Microsoft Reader, etc.), Books24x7 hosts the content online and you access it via your browser. They render the content using their own engine and present one small piece of a chapter at a time on screen. The platform supports full search and bookmarks, as well as the ability to annotate your bookmarks, a nice way to leave yourself a note for follow-up or later reference.

A typical subscription to one of the Books24x7 programs costs $399 per year, but corporate site license discounts are also available. New content and programs are constantly being offered. In fact, Book24x7 is about to launch a new program for our WROX line – watch for this one in late July…

If you’re not familiar with Books24x7, you should visit their site and sign up for a free trial membership.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Books24x7 is an important partner of my employer, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)

Sales Conference

I spent the past week at the Wiley sales conference in Sarasota, Florida. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with many of my sales and marketing colleagues from around the world. Key titles are presented and we spend a good deal of time in breakout sessions with sales reps from the various channels (e.g., national accounts, independents, mass markets, etc.) I wanted to pass along the titles that I found most interesting:

Loyalty Myths, by Timothy Keiningham, et al – Even though my group focuses on computer books, I love it that other parts of Wiley tap into interesting topics like this. The authors claim that everything we’ve learned about customer loyalty is wrong. Not all customers become more valuable over time. Some do just the opposite and supposedly cost the company profits. I’m anxious to read this one, especially since many of my previous posts reflect my interest in customer retention.

Professional DotNetNuke ASP.NET Portals, by The DotNetNuke Core Team – You may have seen this book pop up on Amazon’s Top 25 bestseller list. Even though it’s not available quite yet, this one underscores the power of the author platform. Check out Jim Minatel’s various postings on this topic for more details.

Excel Data Analysis: Your visual blueprint for analyzing data, charts and PivotTables, Second Edition, by Jinjer Simon – OK, I admit it: I’m a spreadsheet jockey. I use Excel all the time and find myself immersed in pivot tables most days of the week. I remember flipping through the first edition of this one, but I plan to carefully read the new one.

Podcasting: Do-It-Yourself Guide, by Todd Cochrane – I first read about podcasting last year and asked Chris Webb to see if a book might make sense. I’ve played around a bit with a couple of podcast subscriptions on my PocketPC, but I’m now looking into a full-fledged MP3 player to avoid swapping in and out SD cards. (Any suggestions on favorite MP3 players?…)

Software That Sells: A Practical Guide to Developing & Marketing Your Software Project, by Edward Hasted – Katie Mohr brought this interesting project to Wiley. With all the small teams and individuals out there trying to create the next “killer app”, this book should appeal to a broad audience. The author has over 30 years of hands-on experience as a developer, consultant and CEO – I can’t wait to read what he has to say.