Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for October, 2002


Posted by shannonclark on October 31, 2002

Why I log

And why I blog as well
note this was also posted to my Ecademy blog

Why I log – nope not going to talk first about keeping an online “blog” such as this (or my primary blog) – but why I have windows open on my desktop monitoring my server logs all day long.

First, it gives me a realtime sense of who is accessing/viewing my website (and since I monitor mail who is/trying to send mail to my firm). This is nice, as in the case of a few days ago I noticed someone from the domain looking at my website, and then a day later the same computer looking at the site again. Sure enough, a few minutes later a reporter called me to ask some questions following up from an article she had been pointed that I had writen over a year ago and shared with another group.

Second, I have configured my web server(s) – all Apache, to generate a “referrer” log. Periodically I will look at the end of this log file to see where people are arriving at my website from. Just today I noticed that late last night someone had searched on “unix consulting” on Google – the “cool” factor being that we had turned up as the 61st hit in that search – not too shabby.

Now in this last case it did not directly lead to a sale – i.e. I did not get a call from this individual to prepare a quote for unix consulting services – but it is a nice proof that our site is in Google and moving into respectible territory for some key keywords. I think it may help that “unix consulting” is also in our keywords meta data for each page of the site.

So it is for moments such as this that I monitor the key logs on my web server. An additional advantage is that I am generating a copy of these logs on a system other than my server – allowing me to see evidence of hacking attempts as they happen (and in a manner that even a very sophisticated “hacker” would find very difficult to avoid). For the most part this means these days that see the occasional “melissa” virus failing as it attacks my Linux server, and increasingly I see the evidence of strange spammer bots attempting to send email. I have seen more cases of mail sent to a random set of names in the past few weeks than I had for years. Must be some new twist to some spam software tool now on the market.

So why do I blog

To have a place to chat about things and thoughts like the above – not quite at the level of a formal article I might write and try to sell somewhere, that type of notes, observations, and thoughts seem very well suited to this medium. (Now I just have to keep each log in synch…)

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Posted by shannonclark on October 31, 2002

Article on “Why network” by Thomas Power”

Ecademy – Guru Comment Octover 2002 – Why I Network

Very good article by Thomas Power on why he networks. He calculates that for every 1000 people in his network he will earn 100,000 pounds, since his goal is 1M, he figures he needs 10,000 people in his network (and he is approaching that).

Lots of good suggestions that I should follow myself – especially about holding lots of meetings with lots of people. I should probably start a practice of doing that here in Chicago and build up my network of contacts, referrals, and opportunities.

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Posted by shannonclark on October 30, 2002

Moving up Google’s lists…

Google Search: “unix consulting”

JigZaw appears as the 62nd (at the moment) result in a search for the phrase “unix consulting”.

Referrer logs are a very cool, and valuable thing – show you the darnedest things sometimes. This is pretty cool though!

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Posted by shannonclark on October 30, 2002

A article on the art of being a part of the “Living Web”

Well written and interesting, thanks Jed for the link

A List Apart: 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web

What’s interesting about this article from my perspective is the many directions it is encompassing for web journals – it talks about both corporate and personal journals as being part of the same process, which is an interesting idea (though the point about “Sex” is perhaps a bit out of place for most corporate web journals)

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Ecademy article

Posted by shannonclark on October 30, 2002

Ecademy – The E-Business Network

The author of this, in Australia, recently IMed to ask my opinion, questions, suggestions, interest and thoughts. Definitely something interesting in there – who knows where it might lead, could be a cool project.

[edited 1.20.2005 to add missing title]

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Posted by shannonclark on October 29, 2002

A bad bad bad day

This is going to be a bit cryptic – contact me privately for more info.

Simple description – one phone call can possibly ruin your year – and I got that type of call – now I have to wait for the other shoe to drop (probably in the mail later this week).

For friends, nothing personal involved, nothing health related, nothing about a friend or family member – just part of what comes with owning your own business I’m affraid.

So, lots of hard work ahead of me this year (hopefully), and some seriously annoying and not so fun work and research as well.

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Posted by shannonclark on October 29, 2002

Yahoo moves to PHP

Here is a set of slides from a presenation by a Yahoo! engineer about their switch to using PHP for their development – Cool stuff – with some very nice benchmarks.

Making the Case for PHP at Yahoo!

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Posted by shannonclark on October 29, 2002

Searching the web, some observations

also posted to my blog on Ecademy

I have been searching online databases for over 15 years, since my high school library moved to an electronic card catalogue driven by the CS department’s VAX.

In that time my skill at quickly getting to relevant search results has grown considerably. For Internet resources and services I started years ago with Archie and Veronica. With the advent of the web I moved to Yahoo!, Altavista, Lycos, and then Google (and played with various metasearch sites from time to time).

Currently I primarily use Google, and occasionally use modern meta search services such as Kartoo (in French though they have an English version – may be loading slowly at the moment).

Recently I noticed the following link in my company’s referrer logs: Google Search on “why we use AI techniques” (note, search was done without the use of quotes)

My firm shows up at the 7th result in this search (pretty cool I think).

However, I then tried a search on the phrase “use AI techniques” – again, without the quotes in my search.

This time, my firm shows up as the 77th result.

Google was ignoring the “why”, so my firm slipped 10 fold in the search results because of a simple “we”.

If you search using the quotes on the phrase “we use AI techniques” my site does not show up at all.

The technical reason for this is that the page title of my site’s page that contains the phrase “use AI techniques” is “JigZaw Inc, What We Do” – thus Google’s algorithm ranks it highly on a search containing the phrase “We”.

Note this is a very good example of why informative page titles are so crucial.

What also strikes me as intriguing about this simple example, is that it shows how important a “small” word (such as “we”) can be in determining search results, and how differently the use/non-use of quotes (i.e. exact phrase matches) can be as well.

For both site maintainers/designers, as well as general users this bears paying close attention to – the very specific phrases that you use when searching can change dramatically the results that you get – and thus the percieved “ranking” of various sites.

For a long time my general advice to people when searching the web has been to be exact – search using the tense and tone of language that reflects what you are looking for (i.e. don’t search on generic terms and phrases, start by searching on the exact message) – this points to why this is both powerful but also potentially deceptive – those small words and phrases by skew results considerably.

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Posted by shannonclark on October 28, 2002

Interesting new site (well new to me) that is a “meta” news site – they filter and comment on the news, including weblogs. They offer a daily email mailing – but I don’t really need another one of those. But interesting site and concept nonetheless. Similar to the print publication “The Week”.

C O R A N T E – Tech News. Filtered Daily.I

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Posted by shannonclark on October 25, 2002

A stealth blog ring

Hey Trey

Trey lists me in his blog ring – calls my blog “one of the more heartfelt ones” – cool I guess.

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