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Month: August 2006

K800i synchronising with Mac OSX

I’ve finally managed to dump the abominable Treo650. After years of Palm use I’ve called it a day: crap OS, daily restarts, fat form factor, pathetic microphone and a camera that’s like a myopic squint. In my time with Orange I’ve had three of them (Threo?) due to problems, breakdowns and general crapness.

Welcome, then, the new Sony Ericsson K800i. Small, nicely built, good camera and it’s just a phone! I will miss the QWERTY keyboard of the Treo but that’s it.

Anyway, first impression led to the realisation that here’s yet another thing that doesn’t sync with the Mac via iSync (should be renamed “MightSync”). A quick google however led me to the rather excellent and his iSync plugins.

After a vast £1.49 (honest) later I had a plugin that just worked exactly as stated. Brilliant!

It reminded me of the wonders of micro-charging. For £1.49 it’s not worth not trying it, if that makes sense. The cost of time looking for options or fiddling in vain is far greater.

So – with a quick “thank you” and a plug for the site I’m off to enjoy good sound quality, good build, decent camera and reliable operation…. I hope!

Now all I need to do is the Sucker’s Dance of buying more new format memory cards, chargers, adaptors etc.

Progress, eh?

IMRG and Hitwise create a “top 50” table of UK etailers.

The IMRG has teamed with Hitwise to give a “Hot Shop List”, or etail ‘top 50′ that will be updated every quarter.

There are the usual suspects on the list, but also some new entries and surprising movers. This demonstrates the need to look beyond one’s own immediate, sectoral competitors and keep an eye on who’s setting the pace in etail, and who’s taking your customers’ money from their wallets before you get a chance!

The HSL is covered in my piece in InternetRetailing.

InternetRetailer is now InternetRetailing

We’ve decided to change the title of to

Although we liked the focus on the retailer rather than the verb, we found that too many of our advertisers were confused as to whether we were the ‘UK branch of‘ (we’re not!).

In sales you only have a few seconds to make a sale and so any distractions or confusion are just a waste of time and revenues. So, on that note, welcome to our new name!

Google Analytics: impressive

I’d had a fiddle with Google Analytics when I managed to get on the early trial, but I’d never really bothered to put any work into it. Why? Well, the traffic on the blog was low (me, my mum, a few mates) and I wasn’t really that interested in doing anything else. Running Analog every now and again was enough to see that the traffic was increasing and that there were some very odd things attracting traffic… For example, the main search terms for August is “Lazy Town”, finding the piece I wrote on the most excellent CBBC series. Next are searches for a friend who’s a playwright, and finally a gaggle of ecommerce, retail and web2.0 related queries. My name (sob) doesn’t feature in the top searches.

This shows that it’s the content – its relevance and quality – that determines visits in this search-engine world and so I thought it was high time to understand a bit more about the behaviour on my web site. What people look at, where they came from and which bits of content are “working” and which not…

Google Analytics’ open-to-all announcement came just as I’d worked out how to edit the Movable Type templates without coming out in a sweat. A simple line of code inserted at the end of a template, a quick rebuild and then a wait of 24 hours until there are some stats.

After years of looking at Analog reports the javascripty interface, attractive reports and considered selection are both a treat and an education. I can see now why the analytics vendors have some concerns, although in honesty this is not going to push Coremetrics out of a large enterprise. For smaller users though this is a real boon.

I’ll continue my learning and report back “in due course” on what I’ve learned.

When taken alongside Blotter this week has delivered a couple of steps forward in visualising activity and ranking of one’s website.

Job Vacancy: Editor for InternetRetailer magazine and portal

InternetRetailer has been growing very well and, with the launch of the print magazine gearing up for November, it’s time for us to get a dedicated Editor.

You’ll remember I’m sure (!) the pre-launch announcement of Internet Retailer, as well as the uncloaking. Since then subscribers have grown well (it’s free, so that helps!) and advertiser response has been uniformly positive.

The magazine will launch initially as a bimonthly publication, but indications are that we’ll be at a monthly frequency within the first six publications.

My role was that of ‘Launch Editor’, and – while I’ll continue to write analysis pieces we’re now looking for someone to take the reins and manage the newsgathering, newsletters, portal improvements and the print magazine.

The job description is available as a pdf here. Please feel free both to forward to any interested parties and to get in touch with any questions.

This title (with its portal, conference and magazine) is the only one in the UK focused upon internet retail and as such this is chance for an ambitious journalist to make a name for herself in this high profile business area.

We expect that the Editor will work under a freelance contract initially but we’re totally flexible as to structure, location etc.

Cake in the park

I just love this image! Very belatedly now added to the photo gallery it’s at last there to share.

On 9 July (yes, MONTHS ago!), Ian and Karen (of birthday fiesta fame) arranged a picnic in Victoria Park. In typical Worley-Wall style this was no shrivelled crust event, but rather the usual feast. These cakes were a total hit and had our girls’ eyes out on stalks. They scoffed their way through the plate full, with Alice particularly appreciative of the ‘constructed arch’ of green and white dolly mixtures (just visible in the background). Belated ‘thanks’ for a great afternoon!

meebo me widget! – Linking IM and web

Now, I love Meebo. It’s a real life-saver when working behind corporate firewalls that block IM traffic (and where the HTTP filters haven’t yet got round to block the domain!). In addition it saved my bacon when my favourite IM client, Proteus, went and died on the Intel MacBookPro…

So – that’s good enough then. Except they’ve gone and done something very clever: embedding a chat window as a widget in your blog or other web site.

Details of the widget are here

I’ve written about some of the implications for retailers in this article on
but one of the interesting points I didn’t cover is the way that you can be alerted to visitors (who are in your buddy list) passing by your website. Neat.

Of course this won’t please those who are paranoid about their movements being tracked, or who are sneaking a peak at a friend’s website, but then again I doubt that these people would have Meebo accounts anyway.

For my part I see it as a further step in the ‘conversational web’, where a website or blog is used as a hub or contact centre for an asynchronous conversation – by links, comments, email and now IM.

Someone remind me what a telephone is for?

Wagging the drooping tail? Visualizing Web Analytics Data: Logarithmic Charts and the Drooping Tail (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)

While all of Nielsen’s posts are interesting, of course, today’s hits a number of buttons in one succint posting.

Ostensibly the purpose of the piece is to note that complex data can’t always be reduced to a simple, linear chart, and that looking beneath the data (or in this case, plotting on a log:log chart) reveals patterns that otherwise would have been missed.

Indeed it’s worth noting that the resulting chart is indeed simple and clear. Whether one understands non-linear charting or not isn’t the point: the key part is to grasp that a good data analyst can suggest different, appropriate presentations to the business owner and these suggestions should be heeded – along with the explanation of what to infer from the simple charts!

Nielsen moves on to talk about the economics of this ‘drooping tail’ (the fall-off against the predicted Zipf’s law decay indicates that there’s unsatisfied demand for pages on his site). While I’m not sure that the absence of pages is the same as frustrated demand, it’s worth bearing with Jacob as he sets out a simple case for the value of this tail.

[to satisfy demand] we’re expecting to add 259,000 pages, so the total value would be $62,000.

It sounds like a nice sum — but could the site create 259,000 new pages for $62K? Obviously not, assuming the employees creating the pages earned salaries higher than that of the average ant.

Arguably, teenagers and UGC devotees can be paid less than the average (non-unionised, I assume) American Ant, but this does beg the question as to the desirability of such content.

The key route to success though is to have made your money from the _first_ publication of the data. For example, BBC News, Reuters, the Financial Times etc all make money while publishing news. The value of the news is highest on the day it’s published and then ‘decays’ as later events render the news quotient more archival background than “must know today”. Over time, however, the archive value rises and this already-fully-amortised content delivers “free” revenues at a later stage. The costs, of course, are those of archive management and distribution.

The final brutal truth though is there for startup companies in the content space to consider. Comprehensive and deep coverage of your niche space is required, yet content is expensive to create and maintain. It’s clear that monetising the long tail is an illusion – unless the content has already been paid for by the time it’s having a rest in the archive.

“Mum’s the word” for Mumsnet and a heavy-handed Gina Ford

Dear oh dear oh dear. Gina Ford, one of the most high-profile and controversial parenting gurus has gone all “cease and desisty’ on Mumsnet, a community mother-run bulleting board that, in the past, she contributed to.

For those of you without kids, or who have only heard of Doctor Spock’s advice then the rest won’t matter. For the bulk of late-parenting, middle class Britain though there can be few people who haven’t come across Gina. You’ll either love her, loathe her or – realistically – both.

We were Gina fans for our twins – the strict, routine-based certainty kept us sane and worked for the twins. For ‘tertius’ we’ve more mellow and have a middle path – the Baby Whisperer.

Anyway, the issue here is whether a bulletin board can be fully responsible for all comments made. Are they a ‘common carrier’ or a publisher?

I won’t go into the details since the community owners have done a great summary here.

I sympathise with them in their predicament which seems to me to lack the essential component of compromise on Ms Ford’s part – goodwill.

Having been involved with football forums (language you wouldn’t believe!), youth forums (language you can’t understand) and business advice forums (language you can’t afford to get wrong) I know the issues are real and important. Technology can help with alerting scripts, filters, user flags, warnings etc. Ultimately, however, the two pillars of bulleting boards are:

* good behaviour
* freedom of speech (given the above).

Good behaviour includes forum rules, netiquette, the law…

It’s sad that a combination of apparent determination to bloody someone’s nose, a misunderstanding about the operation of the internet, and a refusal to accept good moderating practice (prompt removal following complaints etc) is endangering this operation.

I’m sure that there must be a US host that’d take over the business…?? 😉

In the meantime I’m reminded of a probably apocryphal tale of Apple’s naming conventions where Carl Sagan objected to his name being used internally as a code name. The Apple guys changed the codename to “BHA” (butt-headed astronomer). Sagan sued again and lost. Story on Wikipedia (must be true then):

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