Archive for the ‘WEB 2.0’ category

Optimizing Images

6 July 2010

Treasure Map 10
Treasure Map 10
Photo by: Mike Rohde

Make sure that your (image) ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

– Google webmaster guidelines

I try to post images for the majority of my posts. They make the articles more interesting and they help give color to what would otherwise be endless whitespace.

It is important that you optimize the images for search engines. Sometimes we forget to properly fill out alt and title tags. One way to double check your images is to use this Image SEO Tool.

Add your home page url and you get a report on how well you’ve written alt and title texts.

I have used the Image Seo Tool to mass verify the alt tags on the images on my archive pages.

It may not seem much but on some websites the majority of SEO hits come from image search. Properly describing the image through ALT text and following Google guidelines helps users locate the image better and subsequently get to your article.

No one can find your posts unless you leave a map that accurately describes the location.


Google Buzz Missteps

12 February 2010

Google Buzz LogoIt sounds like a great idea, take a very popular product, like Gmail, and attach an interface to it that allows users to link their Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, and Google Reader accounts so they can see information posted by friends (or others they most frequently Gmail to) on those networks. Gmail users can even post their thoughts directly on that interface.

Called Google Buzz, this attempt to get into social networking and compete (or maybe even replace) social media like Facebook and Twitter didn’t start off well. Molly Wood, a consumer electronics blogger at Cnet News, complained of privacy concerns right from the beginning:

Molly’s Rants,
Google Buzz: Privacy nightmare

See, I love the idea of neat new tech innovations that lead to streamlined communication, real-time updating, in-line video and photo posting, and supersimple friend and contact integration. I do not, however, like a product that bursts through my door like a tornado and opts me in to wanton in-box clutter and spam (or, more precisely, bacn) publicly reveals my personal contact list without asking me, threatens to broadcast my e-mail address anytime someone wants to @ me in a Buzz, and even appears to grab photos off my Android phone that I’ve never uploaded.

Seriously, Google. Would it have killed you to add a “configure” step to this process?

When you visit Google Buzz, you’re invited to “Try Buzz in Gmail,” with “no setup needed.” But the no-setup thing isn’t the bonus you might be led to believe.

First, you automatically follow everyone in your Gmail contact list, and that information is publicly available in your profile, by default, to everyone who visits your profile. It’s available with helpful “follow” links too–wow, you can expand your Buzz network so fast by harvesting the personal contact lists of other people!

Blog posts rapidly stepped in with advice on how to shut the damn thing off:

Cnet Webware,
Buzz off: Disabling Google Buzz

Google’s new social-networking tool Buzz is at its root an unwanted, unasked for pest. The way some of us see it, we didn’t opt in to some newfangled Twitter system and we don’t particularly want to see updates from contacts we never asked to follow creep up in our Buzz in-box. Call us what you will, but for curmudgeonly types like us, Buzz isn’t so much social networking as it is socially awkward networking. We tried it, we didn’t like it, and now it has to go.

Step 0: Don’t disable Buzz–yet

The automatic reaction is to scroll to the very bottom of Gmail and click the words “turn off buzz.” But all this does is remove active links, leaving your profile still publicly available, along with any public buzzes you might have made while trying Buzz out. In fact, you’re still technically following people, and they’re following you. Not OK.

[get the rest of the instructions at the link]

Google responded with a few quick fixes:

Relevant Results,
Google tweaks Buzz privacy settings

Google announced some changes to Google Buzz late Thursday that show it has belatedly recognized the backlash over privacy concerns with the new service.

Early users of Google Buzz have found the settings very complicated, especially the ones that pertain to privacy. In a blog post Thursday, Google said it built privacy controls into Google Buzz from Day 1 but acknowledged the most strident criticism–that Google made if difficult to make one’s list of followers private–in tweaking the set-up process for the new social-networking service.

I’m surprised that Google didn’t do better pre-rollout testing on this product asking bloggers to comment and check it out. They’re not supposed to make stupid business mistakes.

Me? I like the idea but I’m going to wait this out and consider it later when Google has had time to iron out all the wrinkles.

Anybody Else out there Vertwittered?

15 January 2010

kids at beach

Ver·twit·ter (fuh-twitta)
1. To wear out completely with tweets, twitters, twhirls, twitter widgets, twitter tools, twitter gadgets, PocketTweets, Twellow directories, Twubble, Twittie Me, Twitdir, Twitstats, and 50,000 other twitter apps.
2. To drain one’s resources and energy by downloading 8 hours of twitter applications every day without the possibility of ever using any more than one or two of them in a lifetime.
3. To exhaust your friends, family, work associates with a constant flow of meaningless, useless, never-ending minutia of whatever you are doing every single minute of every single day.

Since its rollout in 2006, developers and websites now offer Twitter apps in the tens of thousands. Take for example Twitpic which Tech Crunch informs us is one of the top 20 Twitter apps with more that 1.2 million unique visitors in January 2009.

See the photo of the young folks at the beach? Do you know any of them? Neither do I. Do you care? Neither do I. I don’t want to see photos of people I know – why would I want to go look at random photos from people I don’t know? OK, OK, there exist twitterholics who do not have a life and this is very exciting for them, I understand. However, isn’t there an overabundance of photo websites already on the Web?

I find it unbelievable that more than 4 million twits follow Britney Spears. I don’t believe we need to waterboard any terrorists, just read Britney’s tweets to them for an hour or so and they’ll quickly drop a dime on Osama Bin Laden’s butt.

The Telephone was invented in 1876. The First APP for the telephone was the answering machine which came in 1935. The second APP, call-waiting came in 1971 along with Three-Way Calling, Call Forwarding, and Speed Calling.

A few apps over the course of a century made it easy for people to learn to use the phone and the applications at least were actually useful. I suppose if Bell had invented the phone today there would be 50,000 useless apps like: press *2543839 to listen to people who have indicated (by pressing *1088766) that they are from Miami and talking to someone from New York. Yeah, that’s right; certain phone users would pre-agree (by certain touchtones) that they don’t mind having other people listen in on the conversation. After all, what are tweets but textual phone conversations.

Don’t want to listen? There’s an APP for that – hang up.

Fort Hood and the Tweeting of the News

8 November 2009

Paul Carr at Tech Crunch believes that the news reporting of Thursday’s Fort Hood shootings is a perfect example of how social media might not be an unequivocally Good Thing in terms of privacy and human decency.

Paul notes that: “the first news and analysis out of the base didn’t come from the experts. Nor did it come from the 24-hour news media, or even from dedicated military blogs – but rather from the Twitter account of one Tearah Moore, a soldier from Linden, Michigan who is based at Fort Hood, having recently returned from Iraq.”

The problem, Paul writes, is that her information was not accurate. But wait, Paul, neither is information that we get from the mainstream news. Reuters, the BBC, the New York Times have in the past not only misreported the news, but also have photoshopped their images to make them more newsworthy.

Paul castigated the soldier for tweeting instead of helping. We all have watched YouTube videos of kids getting the crap kicked out of them while no one steps in to help, instead making sure to focus their cellphones on the events unfolding before them. And while we may all tsk-tsk about how “citizen journalists” are more interested in boosting their own egos than calling 911 or actually stepping in and helping the victim, this is no different from real-live accredited journalists who report the news.

If a real news reporter from CNN or the BBC with a camera had been on the post, would Paul have criticized him for filming the images rather than putting down the camera and “helping” out? The truth is, any reporter doing so would have been fired by his bosses if he shut off his camera.

We also do not know what would have happened to the story if there were no tweets. Would this have ended up as just another training accident? We have a President who is actively trying to court the favor of Muslims throughout the world. Who knows how the story might have been reported by the military.

The American mainstream media actually lag behind blogs as to what is really happening. For example, from Debbie at the Right Truth, we are presented with links to other stories discussing in more detail Hasan’s links to terror organizations. At the Jawa Report we learn that a member of the Texas mosque (where Hasan was currently attending) not only refuses to condemn Hasan, but justifies their murder because “they were troops who were going to Afghanistan and Iraq to kill Muslims”. Not something one will read in the New York Times.

I believe it is important for the news to come to us unfiltered by those with huge corporate advertising behind them, without pressure from the government, without the worry of political correctness. While political correctness may be an important social lubricant, it should be absolutely excluded from news reporting.

See this Flickr video.