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Drupal Vs. Made From Scratch December 26, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Drupal, Pontification, web 2.0, web applications.
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Peter Van Dijck’s Guide to Ease

has an interesting discussion that considers the relative merits of using Drupal for startup businesses. The assumption one must make is that this is instead of creating a solution from scratch. He general thesis is :

… Drupal keeps evolving to solve a lot of different problems, it tries to be a swiss army knife. You’ll probably use 20% of Drupal, which means you have 80% cruft (which 20% can be different for everyone), and you’ll probably only have 20% of your needs addressed by Drupal, which means you’ll have to hack around the 80% cruft to get your 80% needs addressed. It’ll just keep frustrating you. ..


I would agree but think it is still better than many alternatives.

I do think the point could be made by saying something like this: The start ups don’t fully understand that it can provide a basic framework but should not see it as more than that. If you start from scratch 80 percent of your time and energy will be spent creating the core system or the systems represented by Drupal Core. Its the other 20% that makes their start up a unique business and this 20% is 100% of what they should be focusing on.

Another way to look at this would be Drupal VS. Scratch. I contend that except in rare circumstances starting from scratch is a competitive disadvantage and can’t think of one inherent benefit

The big assumption here is that they want to use the functions and not creating a software distribution for actual resale. That analysis is slightly different but not completely.


American Airlines has the worst managment on planet Earth and beyond. December 25, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in American Airlines, assholics, assholism, Pontification.
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I hope they don’t close down the Guantanamo Bay water-boarding facility too soon. Honestly I’m as serious as I’ve every been about anything in my life. The skills those guys gained at administering human misery and degradation would both be appreciated by American Airlines management and employees and be an appropriate Christmas present.  It would be my gift to them for making my Christmass  so special . I’m sure all these angry humiliated and exhausted people would support this and chip in if air fare were needed to get the American CEO to Cuba..

I’m sitting here on Christmas eve after the worst Airline on the planet and beyond could not find a flight attendant to ride with a plane FULL of Christmas eve passengers to Tucson from Dallas. Now if you want to know how this company is doing consider that the worst airliner on the planet and beyond — American Airlines — has part of their corporate headquarters here in Dallas.

They had a flight attendant at 8 PM. She decided it was not her job to fly on Christmas eve. They had another flight attendant at 9ish. She was on her way but decided to bag it,, call it a night,,, tip a few with the boys,, attend a water-boarding exhibition given as a Christmas present by the Amercian management.

THEN THEY HAD ANOTHER ATTENDANT CANCEL WHO WAS IN THE BUILDING. They got one who was on the way from Long Beach after that and SHE TOO CANCELED. If you’re counting you will note that FOUR FLIGHT ATTENDANTS DECIDED TO SAY SCREW YOU TO THE CUSTOMERS OF American Airliess the worst airline on Earth.

This absolutely absurd Christmas eve nightmare at the hands of American Airlines the worst Airline on planet earth and beyond is not a joke nor is it an exaggeration of the facts. The weather is fine. The airplane is supposed to be fine but if I were betting I’d say there are major structural problems with the machinery because they employee attitudes would seem to suggest that not only do they not care what happens to the customers.. they are making plans to administer pain and suffering at the most critical times possible. Certainly unsafe aircraft are more possible with this bunch than most.

Here is a quote from their website’s ‘About Us’ page.

American Airlines and American Eagle are in business to provide safe, dependable, and friendly air transportation to our customers, along with numerous related services. We are dedicated to making every flight you take with us something special.

Well some of this is true. Torture and humiliation are related services in by their definition I suppose. And certainly we have a unanimous group of travelers here who feel American has made this flight ‘something special’.

I personally wish the entire company a merry Guantanamo Christmas.

Articles. VS. Blog Aggregation and Search visiblitiy December 15, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Pontification.
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I was asked how we find blogs for the aggregation sites. The next question inevitably was why we don’t use the static article sites to create search profile for a topic or regionally focused site.

The article sites with free articles ARE where the duplicate issues come into play. That content does get seen as duplicated and might actually hurt you in search visibility.

This is speculation like all things to do with SEO but I see some problems with pulling these articles in terms of a wasted effort .

The problem you face is the information velocity is so low on that stuff. “Duplication filters” as they are termed by SEO experts only come in to play over a longer time span — the longer it sits the more duplicated it is or seems. So the articles which are pulled by multiple sites and seen everywhere are discounted in terms of relevance and therefore useless to your users. That last part is the key. If they find it relevant then so will the search engines. Its simple to know what to do. Pretend you will use the site if you have not.

Allot of this is just my own observations and some is what I’ve read but it all is verified by my own two eyes .. literally.

I’ve been asked how we find blogs to aggregate.

  1. We do a blog search on Google Blog search
  2. Look at the blogs and make a visual inspection and its hard to explain but if it looks like an article site — i.e. where someone is doing the old copy and past of articles AND THAT IS ALL. then its discounted by us.
  3. When we find one that looks okay and the content seems genuine.. even without reading it carefully we start to look at the links or blog roll for more blogs. Our assumption which is almost always correct is that bloggers add bloggers to their rolls who are of like mind and deal with like subjects.
  4. The become quickly exponential and one GOOD blog may be hard to find but once its found then others are much easier.
  5. We look at these sites. See the ones that are posting new content allot and give priority to those. then we read the content and if there are allot of comments we assume that the content is better than sites with few comments.

I’m writing this just because I think its worth repeating to myself and don’t want to let you go down a path without first hearing my take. I can easily be wrong by the way and have zero stake in being right. My stake is in proving results and not defending a positron.

There are a million and twenty SEO experts and all have something to sell. You can find a position and argument for everything and most of it is vague and not provable save for over a long time frame if then .. I.E most of it is bull.

So go back to what it is Google is selling or doing.

They see themselves as not Google but as a search engine that is as vulnerable to completion. Their search results have to be better than Yahoo or Ask or whatever. They want the users to find what they are looking for. End of the story.

So think about this for a sec. If you have a series of sites that have even ONE of the same article (as opposed to RSS fed blog) it will be a warning to anyone that maybe you are collecting ‘articles’ from the free article sites. Again the RSS feeds are SUPPOSED to be duplicated. Also legitimate blog feeds procure two way links.

Here’s the thing of it. Also its the key and the basic tenant. Google is selling users on NOT sending the to article sites.

Look at that list of things we do to find content.. I could expand it by listing some of the ancillary things like searching delicious and Technorati and IceRocket ect.

The point is that after we did it over and over and over I realized something. Every single solitary thing we do right down to the judgment on the look and feel of the site is exactly what Google does when trying to find relevant content for its users. Again look at the main things we do and look at number 3. Does that seem familiar? So I started to think about times when we don’t follow the links.. If there are too many ….


  • Too many outbound links on the first page or the blog tool
  • more than 20 key words per page
  • stale articles — ie. articles for articles sake


  • anything that helps define what your really are and what your really do.

see http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=51784


  • a site on Acne with a bunch of articles about acne that can be found in various places and seem to be in all the same kings of site. — millions of these sites.


  • An aggregation site of bloggers who have acne and talk about their acne problems.. == major opportunity I think.

Users make instant decisions and remember patterns like you wouldn’t believe. Websites and content are like faces which we have an amazing capacity to recognize.,,, Its a very long story and I’m tired .. really and sorry I can’t be more convincing. My opinion. and it is only opinion is that the articles are not going to help you becasue the users will find no vaule in them. It was a short lived trick.

Headlemur, sploggers, Rex and why its good to commuicate September 2, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Big Media, Blogroll, chronicnews, Pontification, RSS & Media, RSS Applications, splogger John B.
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Rex Hammock has a post that perfectly sums up the situation I’ve been facing over the last few days and nights (its a blur).

Thank you Lemur and Thank you Rex.

I’m going to try to explain it in one place and hope a few people care after the

I’ll let Lemur speak for himself but I appreciate these words. He explains our intent better than I ever have.

The Idea of a network of City Specific Websites who primary news sources are bloggers who live there is really a quite good idea. In addition to the elegance of the software he built to aggregate and present posts and the overall design, it is astonishingly good, and as I demonstrated in my previous postings, fast.

He also has a number of features such as forums, a blog, an ad server, for monetizing the network, because despite the fact that it is a home grown effort, the electric bill never stops.

With a good opt-in system and participation this can be a quite nice addition to the internet.

Whether or not there will be any revenue sharing opportunities,should not be your primary motivation should you decide to participate. Nor should traffic to your site. Like everything else in life, you must make your own choices based on your belief and enthusiasm.

Also I think its important to clear up two things as soon as possible. My group of programmers / CMS coders nor I have never made a penny off any of this and I regret ever putting Google Adsense in the applications. (I just got $30 from Text Link ads in my Pay Pal account which is more than Adsense pays [there are some interesting limitations to Googles Adsense algorithm when the page consists of many different ‘voices].). We make our living providing similar types of systems and functionally to thrid parties for a fee. The whole network and the rest has been a good demonstration of what we do but nothing more. In this regard my reaction to Lemur was not unlike the guy who found out his agent was sleeping with his wife when told they were spotted running without clothing from his burning house. “You mean my agent actually came to my house?” On learning the I was being accused of being a splogger a part of me was thinking it was nice to be appreciated even if it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.

While we hope it could become more we especially hold no delusions in this regard. This stuff is really really hard. It takes a lot of sweat and luck just to get where we are which is really nowhere.

The purpose of the whole thing began to change when we realized that in order to attract and keep good content you had to create an enviorment that gave control and reward to the content provider. As Lemur notes we’ve developed a fully functional ad server thats feature rich and extensible There was no other point to creating a tipping system that allows users to directly ‘tip’ content providers with a single mouse click. (The only entity making anything of the transaction is Pay Pal.) The bloggers/content providers can login and input their Google Adsense info to have Adense ads offered with their content (good luck on getting anyone to click on one). All this is available right now on any of our sites.

The Headlemur correctly analysed some other things about the system and while I hope next time he chooses someone esle’s operation to analyes I have to note he proved his point. Some of the other stuff regards how feeds can be individually tweaked for display with thing like logos and teaser breaks. Plus keywords can be attached to the feed’s items.

He also noted the Google calendar functions that we’ve been able to bring in using the Google supplied API. Anyone in Nashville can publish an event and have it searched or automatically appear on anyone’s calendar. For the time being I can pretty much guarantee that if you use the Google calendar and overlay ours (or just enter it into ours either one) your event will be in the top 3 or 4 when someone searchs for Nashville. (There are more than you can believe) They can be anywhere Google offers calendar search which seems to work best from inside the calendar itslelf. Anyone who wants to add just needs to click a calendar and send a request once.
The ad server which includes the ability to inject text ads, banner ads and video insertions; the provider specific adsense and Pay Pall Tipit have all ben available for some time. Additionally and very importantly we needed the ability to email the comments made on the blog posts directly to the bloggers themselves.Adserver_screen_2 All this works well. What we’ve not had time to do is bring it all together under one interface. As it is now the blogger has to login to the adserver, create the ad and generate the insertion code. Next step is to login to one of the sites and insert it in the feed or a specific item or both. As to Adsense and Tipit it is the same without the Adserver step. But you can see and example of the adsense functionality on Flixya which is a site we worked on and very nice I might add. (Before anyone starts its true I’m trying to extract some benefit from an otherwise unfortunate occurrence.)banner

Most importantly and somewhat obviously we lack a coherent communication system. Uhm.. I got the message now. The point of the thing is to be low overhead while feature rich, graphically malleable and good at offering RSS feeds in a way that is web viewable. Its not to be anything like a splog (Wired has a very good investigative piece on splogs that will be online in 2 days). We’ve found out the hard way a system that can centrally manage group mailing lists is more prone to erratic behavior than the ad server functionality, PayPal,Adsense, RSS feeds aross multiple domains all rolled in one.

Sometime on Monday (Saturday Sept. 4th) you can see a crude demo of the all in one management system by going to http://Chronicblogs.com and creating a fake user account with any email address.business punditt

Its an aggregation system that is different, not better, just different than others. We don’t comment on posts or excise the text of the feed or otherwise purposely change the original order or sense of things. The bad thing is there is no human making these decisions on a minute to minute basis. The good thing is there is no human making these decisions on a minute basis. Take your pick. Ther’re both right . The former way certainly gives more control over what people are willing to say and provides for a more uniform type of posting no matter what the stated policy of the medium its still making choices based on content. Slashdot is good example of this and it works better than any.

I don’t think some of the comments I saw elsewhere are factually accurate regarding this. I’ll check some more.

Also its important that people realize that a site like this is not competition for established old media outlets (or related blogs) nor been intended that way. The old ‘stick it to the competition sort of thinking sort of breaks down here. Or it should.

As I said there has not been one blog aggregated in the last 6 months, if not longer, that we don’t have a letter in the file. For those that don’t we’re freezing the feeds sending letters and anyone who wants to stay please do. After a week with no notice we’re removing their items, then the feed. We thought about just deleting them — much easier — but that might appear spiteful and despite some of the statements otherwise the links are real and no doubt have some benefit. The way we plan to work this is by invite or request and we need to have the other bloggers vote the content in or out for after all it will affect them and to do otherwise is an invitation to becoming a splog for real.

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The Upshot August 31, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Pontification.
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Sometimes it takes a brick to the head for me to focus. It clears the cobwebs.

When we started the application the ethos in the blogsphere was very different that it is today. A few years ago most bloggers would clamor to be carried by anyone who paid enough attention to bother to read their posts.

Its different today and while we implemented changes about 6 months ago to carry only those who give expresses written permission there are some-who have not. We are going to take each site one by one and make sure that isn’t the case.

Stay tuned.

The myth of the citizen journalist July 17, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in chronicnews, local search, Pontification, unbundled content, Unbundled Media, user interface.
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I’ve been in a dialogue with someone whose been involved with the whole citizen’s journalist thing and asks a good question.

How do you plan to get people in each of the communities to view the sites and more importantly contribute to the site? The whole contribute thing is a big problem for a lot of people and it is one that I have yet to see a solution that works on a constant basis for multiple communities.

My response:

Our approach is slightly different. But this tiny difference matters in terms of the sustainability. Without going into the long history of how we got here I’ll explain.

We target certain bloggers in an area based on criteria yet to be formalized (nice way of saying we just wing it). Then we send them letters and ask for permission to aggregate their blogs and its almost always given. Once the slate is set we proceed to automatically aggregate the feeds. The software displays the product in a fashion designed to emulate a human editorial team – i.e. not too many items from a single blog at once and a good mixture of content types and voices.

The aggregation creates natural urls and pings the blog directories and search bots to say its updated every hour or so. It creates a huge index and search visibility rather fast but can be a technological problem keeping things fast.

So to answer the question in a round about way the content isn’t dependant on group participation from average readers..I tried this and its not really a business model that works consistently enough. Dan Gilmour started Bayosphere at the same time and learned this as well. The citizen journalist is a myth. You are either a journalist or you are not and theoretically we are all citizens of the web.

Think of ours as tapping into a new source for content from a semi-professional sort — the constant blogger if you will.

I guess the last thing here is that we are trying to create ways to attract and keep the better bloggers but that’s another discussion.

That is our key difference and we’re working on ways to massage these content sources better. Its the current focus and will be manifest in http://chronicblogs.com relatively soon — sometime this week I hope..

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Faithful Freinds June 10, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in local search, Pontification, Search, Usability, user interface.
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This morning I woke up to find Lola, our St. Bernard, had passed away in the back yard. What was I supposed to do? I'd never actually thought about what one does with a 170 lbs animal. Add to that my wife and three small children were returning from buying birthday presents for our 2 year old. Lola, was the size of a horse and was lying pretty much where the children would be frolicking. I felt certain they would notice .

My wife had had a particularly trying day and loved that dog. I did too. What I wasn't going to do was deliver this news on the cell phone where she was sure to have a complete breakdown.

I don't know why but I called my mother who suggested that she would send my 75 year old father over with a shovel at which point we would dig. I pointed out that he needed to pickup some dynamite because in Nashville you hit solid rock between 2 and 3 feet pretty much anywhere. I live in Green Hills and the bedrock is about 14 inches down which would mean we would have to build a tomb. Anyway the web was no help. zero..So through word of mouth I find Chuck and Faithful Friends. He was prompt and thorough and sensitive.

I appreciate what he did today. I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm insane because I a nightmare vision of Marissa and the kids driving up just as we had Lola on the stretcher.

Why am I blogging this? There was no service listed anywhere online in Nashville such as Faithful Friends. If you don't believe me take a look yourself. However it only took two phone calls to narrow in on Chuck. Why is that? Moreover I seriously doubt I was the only person who has ever turned to the web for help finding something that seems like it should be coming up on Google and Yahoo. Chuck's website is brand-new and I hope this post can help someone in similar circumstances.

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Chronic Advertising June 9, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in chronicnews, Pontification, unbundled content, Unbundled Media.
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Chronicnews shows network bloggers its ad system that flows text and rich media through blog content in place of static banners or text. Node Flow ads allow publishers and bloggers to set a synchronized or semi random placement of text, flash, image or streaming video content inside ‘ad nodes’ which flow along the page with the content as it moves from top to bottom.

The service is free to bloggers in the network. Chronicnew is a Nashville company operating a web based publishing network focused on local content. It utilizes RSS for content delivery and relies on search visibility for its site promotion. The results of their initial experimental development were evident in late May when NashvilleSNews , the original development site, reached number 8 in Google search results for the search phrase "Nashville News". That key word combination is one of if not the single most competitive in the market.

Full PDF

Advertising whereever you look…!!!

No actaully this works nicely and while it isn't going to revolutionize the web it will help productive bloggers get paid for their output whereever it may end up.

First Adult Cancer Patient in Nashville to Receive Stem Cell Transplant June 8, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Pontification.
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First Adult Cancer Patient in Nashville to Receive Stem Cell Transplant From Umbilical Cord Blood at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 8 (AScribe Newswire) — When 24-year-old Charles Dougherty checks into Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center tomorrow, he’ll be preparing for a treatment that has never been performed before in an adult patient in Nashville, and will be only the second case in Tennessee history.

The stem cell transplant will use blood from an anonymous umbilical cord donor and could save Dougherty’s life. Madan Jagasia, M.D., a specialist in hematology and stem cell transplant, will perform the transplant. "If Charles doesn’t get the transplant his leukemia will come back. He has already relapsed once," Jagasia said. Cord blood transplants have been widely used to treat children with blood-borne cancers, but the procedure is still new in adult patients because of the amount of stem cells needed for a larger patient. Jagasia said the techniques needed to safely carry out the cord blood transplant have also improved. "We’ve gotten better at freezing, transporting and collecting cord blood."

Untitled Document

Good luck Charles.


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Mistaken identity of the worst most horrific sort June 1, 2006

Posted by Pontiff in Pontification.
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Indiana parents spend weeks at their daughter’s bedside, awaiting her emergence from a coma. When she comes to, the girl says she isn’t their daughter – she’s actually another blonde who was in the car wreck. Which means their own daughter has already been buried.For the past week, the family of Laura VanRyn, 22, had been using a blog to keep friends and loved ones up to date on the young woman’s progress since the April 26 crash involving several students at Taylor University. The young woman was in a rehab center in Grand Rapid, Mich, when she started coming to.


I can’t even begin to imagine what these poor people have experienced. My heart goes out to them.


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