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April 27, 2006

Katie Digs a Hole

Katie's pretty much recovered from her surgery and back to normal Katie things like digging holes in the backyard. She was very excited about something in that hole today (probably a chipmunk).



Then she had to take a good whiff to make sure there was still something down there.



Then she had to come up for air.


April 17, 2006

Lucky Lucky Charms

I was at Kroger last night buying some milk and walked through the cereal aisle to see if they had any good deals. For a while now they've had Cocoa Pebbles for $2.15 when just about any kind of cereal there is costs more than $3.00. I hadn't had any of that in a while and I had some healthier cereals at home already so I picked up a box. Further down the aisle I saw that Lucky Charms were 2 for $4.00. But then I saw on the front that every box included a free iTunes purchase on the inside. That was like getting 2 boxes of cereal for $2.02! So I put the Cocoa Pebbles back.

Once I was at home, I tried to be very careful cutting the box without cutting the bag, but I wound up cutting the bag anyway. The box also said that 1 in 10 redemptions also would receive 5 extra free songs. Even with 2 boxes those were long odds. Tonight I entered the web address www.itunes.com/redeem in Mozilla and it started a 3 megabyte download before I gave up and started Internet Explorer which instantly opened iTunes (I guess Mozilla was downloading iTunes, that would have been a wait at 50.6 kbps). Anyway, I entered the code and instantly received 6 free songs!

April 14, 2006

Katie's Day

4:05 AM: Think I'll walk around a while. If I do this long enough maybe I'll get to go outside.
4:15 AM: He's getting up! Yay. I get to go outside.
4:16 AM: I want back in please.
4:17 AM: I want back in
4:19 AM: Let me in!
4:20 AM: Back inside. Zzzzz.

7:25 AM: The beepy thing has gone off a couple of times now. It's time to lick him.
7:26 AM: Yay. I get to go outside.
7:27 AM: I want back in please.
7:30 AM: Uh-oh, maybe he's thinking about giving me a bath. Think I'll go hide somewhere.
7:32 AM: Arf! Arf! I think the garbage man is here!
7:45 AM: Zzzzz . . .
7:50 AM: He's out of the shower now. Now is it time to eat?
7:55 AM: It's just dog food again. Oh well. I can come back to that later.
7:59 AM: Hey, Clio, stop eating my food.
8:04 AM: Arf! Arf! I think the garbage man is here!
8:06 AM: Arf! Arf! I think the garbage man is here! Let me outside!
8:07 AM: False alarm. I need to get back in.
8:08 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
[edit - the garbage man doesn't come on Fridays]
8:15 AM: He's getting dressed. This can't be good.
8:20 AM: No walk today, he's got the noisy shoes on.
8:23 AM: I guess he's leaving. Hey, rawhide treats!
8:25 AM: There he goes. I guess he's really leaving.
8:26 AM: Yay! He's coming back.
8:27 AM: Hey, he's leaving again. Where's my rawhide treat? Clio?
8:28 AM: Yep, he's gone.
8:29 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:34 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:38 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:41 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:45 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:48 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:54 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
8:58 AM: Arf! Arf! The garbage man is here!
9:03 AM: Zzzzz
9:35 AM: Arf! Arf! the mailman is coming!
9:36 AM: Zzzzz
10:05 AM: Arf! Arf! the mailman is coming!
10:15 AM: Arf! Arf! the mailman is coming!
10:23 AM: Arf! Arf! the mailman is coming!
10:26 AM: Arf! Arf! the mailman is coming!
10:28 AM: Zzzzz
11:10 AM: Arf! Arf! the mailman is coming!
11:12 AM: Oh my gosh! It really is him! The mail man! Arf! Arf!
11:14 AM: He's getting out of the truck! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!
11:15 AM: He coming towards the house!
11:16 AM: He's gone. I scared him away. That was close.
11:24 AM: He's back! Arf Arf
11:26 AM: He's driving away. Another close call
11:27 AM: Zzzzzzz

2:35 PM: Arf! Arf! Who is it! Who is it! Nobody.
2:53 PM: Arf! Arf! Who is it! Who is it! Nobody.
3:12 PM: Arf! Arf! Who is it! Who is it! Nobody.
3:25 PM: Arf! Arf! Who is it! Who is it! Nobody.
3:43 PM: Arf! Arf! Who is it! Is that the UPS man?! Arf! Arf!
3:45 PM: Arf! Arf! The UPS man?
3:51 PM: Zzzzzzzz
5:31 PM: Arf! Arf! Who is it! Is that the UPS man?! Arf! Arf!
6:25 PM: Is that a car?
6:28 PM: Is that a car? It is! He's home!
6:29 PM: Yay! I get to go outside.
6:31 PM: I'm ready to come in.
6:32 PM: Mmm . . treats
6:33 PM: Oooh yeah, scratch me, scratch me
6:35 PM: He's sitting at the computer
6:38 PM: Outside please.
6:42 PM: Let me in
6:44 PM: Chipmunk!
6:50 PM: Let me in please
[edit - when Katie sees a chipmunk she just pushes the door open and flies out]
7:00 PM: Dinner time
7:01 PM: Just dog food again. Yum! Fish oil!
7:03 PM: That was good.
7:05 PM: He's watching TV
7:06 PM: Want to play? Want to play? What if I squeak this toy?
7:15 PM: Zzzzzzzz
8:35 PM: Back to the computer
8:37 PM: Pet me, pet me.
8:40 PM: Outside please
8:42 PM: Let me in
9:10 PM: Back to TV. Zzzzzz
11:10 PM: Getting up. Outside.
11:12 PM: Let me in
11:25 PM: Time for bed. Run to bed.
11:26 PM: Yum! Puperoni treat!
11:27 PM: Zzzzzz

April 13, 2006

Idea for Apple

Apple has been very successful with iTunes and the iPod. Maybe it has even helped them sell more iMacs. But clearly it is time for them to move on. I don't just mean little tweaks like the rumored iPod phone or full-screen video player (which I hope comes out in July and will be cheap enough that I can pay for it with AdSense and Amazon money). And I was thinking about the nano today and how easy it would be to bend or break it while it is in your pocket and I thought a good idea would be to put a hinge in it like a small cell phone.

Actually I'm thinking that Apple could really beef up iTunes, maybe calling it iHome or something and really make a big play on home automation and controlling home entertainment systems. I think they could put all the ingredients together by using wireless networks to stream programming to home stereos and TV's. They could record HDTV programming from cable, satellite, or broadcast signals (like Tivo), along with letting you download music and video either to own or rent. Maybe they could find a way to combine DRM and let you rip your own DVD's to store on a giant hard drive. And it would all be served by an Apple computer. You could surf the net too and do it via a remote control (which could be a Blackberry or iPod). If a TV incorporated Airport you could completely eliminate all the wires connecting to it except for power.

Because I don't think it would be that much harder to add, you could have it turn on lights, make coffee, close the blinds, etc. Maybe they could even control the AC by only cooling or heating rooms where people were. You could program the water heater to have plenty of hot water in the morning and less during other parts of the day. That way they could save tons of energy.

The nice thing about this is that there isn't a product that does all of this yet and it wouldn't really compete with Microsoft. In fact it would make regular PC's seem as mundane as a stapler: something you just use at work. You wouldn't be forced to sit at your computer anymore. Eventually homes will be automated, and with a name like Apple behind the idea, it could take off . . . or be three years ahead of its time and become a Newton. At any rate, with the introduction of video on iTunes, I don't see how they can keep calling it iTunes for long.

April 11, 2006


When I was on iLounge I found a new word, "astroturfing". I sort of thought I knew what it meant, but didn't look it up. Whatever it was, it was forbidden in the discussion areas. While doing some research on different iPod battery packs, I found one that had glowing reviews on iLounge. But a closer look revealed the person had only made one comment on iLounge ever. While reading some other sites, I found a very similar review. In fact it had exactly the same misspelling in it. I thought this must be astroturfing. But, according to Wikipedia what I was seeing was shilling, where a person claiming to be independent of the company pretends to be a satisfied customer. This technique is used in street cons like 3-card Monty and other places.

Astroturfing is when someone poses as multiple people who discuss the great qualities of some product trying to make it look like it has great grass roots support, when everything is fake (fake grass!). Wikipedia had a great example of this from the Iraq war in 2003 where a number of soldiers had written letters to the editor of their hometown papers saying how great everything was going in the war and how the media distorted everything. Apparently a number of these letters made it into newspapers before an editor who had gotten the same letter from two different people started poking around. A few quick Google searches turned up the exact same letter in other newspapers. In the end it all came down to an ambitious Lt. Colonel in the army who wanted to drum up support for the war.

April 6, 2006

Way Back Machine

I remember reading (or maybe Jeb told me; that's kind of like reading) something about a website that archived past versions of web pages. That way you could go back and see what web pages used to look like last century. At lunch today we were talking about out-of-date web pages and I mentioned the Way Back Machine (which I remembered being the name of the site, but it is not the URL). At this point it was pointed out to me that the original Way Back Machine was how Mr. Peabody would go back in time on an old cartoon. Then we tried to remember whether Mr. Peabody was the dog or the other person and which one wore glasses (the dog did) and what the person's name was . . .

Anyway, I found www.webarchive.org pretty quickly. I was hoping they would have some links to some of the most popular or interesting websites, but they pretty much leave it to you to look up URL's and then they show you a list of archived pages of that site from different times. They did have one section of archived websites from September 11, 2001 that seemed like it would be interesting. But I entered GDOT's URL to see what they had and even found some of the very first web pages that I had ever written, long since modified or deleted on my own computer.

Then I looked for mac.fiveforks.com and found stuff from way back in 2003, before blogs, when the site was called FOKAJ (in the title, FOJAK on the page itself). It doesn't seem to save large pictures, or maybe it just isn't saving pictures at all unless they are still in the original location. And the blogs don't work well because they use separate style sheets that are not captured.

April 1, 2006

Amazon Q1 Results

The quarter ended yesterday, so I got the last of my data this morning. As I said earlier the results were much better than I expected.

I sold 23 Belkin Battery Backpacks, 2 BTI Battery ii's, 2 Griffin Tunejuice batteries, and 2 iPod travel chargers. I'm amazed that so many people chose the Belkin battery pack, though I guess that's what I would choose too and Amazon has the best price at $25 (the Apple Store charges the full list price of $50 for the same thing). Combined with a few other items like DVD's, CD's (thanks, Jeb!), bass strings, and software that sold, the total was $1,016.71 in sales with a commission of $60.78.

But all is not well in the land of free money. After writing about my monster $15 day, sales plummetted and I went six days straight without a single sale before finally scoring one more Belkin battery pack on March 30. Hopefully things will return to normal where I sell an item or two a day.

However, even if I start to get better sales, Amazon announced a cut in the program effective today that will cap the commission on electronics at 4% whereas before I was getting 6.75% on most battery packs from the 4% base plus a 0.25% volume bonus plus a 2.5% direct-link bonus (the direct-link bonus only worked if the person bought the thing they clicked on from my page, but lately that was happening more often than not). Having sold 46 items in a little over a month I was hoping to get an additional 0.50% volume bonus next quarter for selling over 90 items, putting me at 7.25%. So they are cutting the commission by nearly half. I applied the new commission structure to my Q1 sales and it would have brought my earnings down from $60.78 to $46.17. I certainly don't have to worry about breaking $600 a year now. People on the Amazon Associates discussion boards are furious as Amazon restructures the commissions every year or so to Amazon's advantage. Items other than electronics benefit from a new and improved commission structure but the increase doesn't really do that much for me.

As an experiment with Amazon ads, Jeb placed an ad on his very popular Barbies and Trolls page towards the end of the month. In only a week it quickly rang up 1,074 impressions with 46 people clicking on the ad to take them to Amazon, however no purchases resulted and Amazon doesn't pay for clicks.

I said last time that the AdSense revenue had dropped off lately. In February I had 10 days where I made at least a dollar in ad clicks, but in March there were only 5. If I could have gotten $26.03 in March I would have reached the $100 payment trigger in only 4 months, but I fell a couple of dollars short so now I will get paid after April. Still, not bad.

I still haven't sold one item through buy.com's sales program. But I have kept researching and adding new battery packs and tweaking some of the information on the iPod Battery Pack page.

That still puts me on my way to being able to buy a new iPod in July. There are rumors that Apple will release a version where the whole front is a video touch screen. Also an Apple iPod mobile phone may be in development.

See Q2 results