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What's New? Paul Gurney's blog – 2009 and Earlier Archives

Return to the current year articles.


Egads, where is the sense of irony?
“We don’t want to create an army of spammers, and we are not trying to turn Facebook and Twitter into one giant spam network,” said Joey Caroni, co-founder of Peer2. “All we are trying to do is get consumers to become marketers for us.” From the nytimes online. Isn't that great...


Our favorite hosting company


Chinese Viral:

Yang tells the story of how a single 12-character message -- "Jia Junpeng, your mother wants you to go home to eat" -- posted to an online forum frequented mainly by bored gamers frustrated with delays in the rollout of World of Warcraft in China, became a viral sensation -- attracting 7 million hits and 300,000 comments in one day -- that received widespread coverage from Chinese media. [Story]


Caution about your WIFI Router:

From a recent article at, researchers discover that a common WIFI security setting is easily hackable.

To quote: "Both attacks work only on WPA systems that use the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) algorithm. They do not work on newer WPA 2 devices or on WPA systems that use the stronger Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm. Users can change from TKIP to AES encryption using the administrative interface on many WPA routers." Go do this now on your office router!


Monetize that viral video!

This is interesting... copyrighted music used in a home-grown wedding video makes artist and label big money off the viral traffic. Some inside info from google: Read the case study -- no longer is there a take-down notice slapped on the offending content. Be sure to watch the wedding video, too -- it's fun. For the technically minded, read Wired's technical analysis of YouTube's Content ID system: YouTube's Content ID.


Quote of the week:

Objects can be designed to low price, but they cannot be crafted to low price.... Craftsmanship cements a relationship between buyer and seller, worker and employer, and expects something of both. It is about caring about the work and its application. It is what distinguishes the work of humans from the work of machines, and it is everything that IKEA and other discounters are not. — "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture" by Ellen Ruppel Shell


BING —  But It's Not Google.


Comparison of JQuery and MooTools

Hands down the best review of these two Javascript resources. This is why I say that both frameworks are excellent choices. My effort here has been to highlight the differences in philosophies between the two codebases and highlight their advantages and disadvantages. Read the article.


Webware 100 Winners!

By CNET: Webware 100 for 2009.


Best CSS advice

Write Your Base for Gecko, Then Tweak for Webkit and IE. Save yourself troubleshooting headaches and write CSS first for Gecko browsers (Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Flock, Camino). If your CSS works properly with Gecko, it’s much more likely to be problem free in Webkit (Safari, Chrome) and Internet Explorer. From: Web Designer Depot.


Do you have Soul?
I (this is Paul) was just speaking to a resort company's managers about expanding the resort's purpose and mission first before creating their new marketing strategy and deciding on tactics. This "mission work" isn't new of course, but I passionately used the phrase "find your soul first" – and I caught a few raised eyebrows. Hmm. Just now I was reading the former MySpace Chairman Richard Rosenblatt’s essay "Advice To The New Executive Team". He wrote:

In addition to developing the community experience from the bottom-up, it’s equally important to think top-down about its core meaning and purpose. If you do nothing else, define a clear vision for the essence of the MySpace community experience. At Demand Media we call this SOUL, and the continuous, organic growth of our owned and operated network of properties is predicated on it.

Ahh, just when it feels like you are communicating on a foreign wavelength, along comes the sweet smell of validation.


It's that time of year – Browser share statistics!

Browser Total Market Share
Microsoft Internet Explorer 66.10%
Firefox 22.48%
Safari 8.21%
Chrome 1.42%

From MarketShare Hitlinks

Operating System Total Market Share
Windows 87.90%
Mac 9.73%
Linux 1.02%
iPhone 0.55%
iPod Touch 0.15%
Java ME 0.07%
Android 0.07%
Symbian 0.06%
Windows Mobile 0.05%


Quote from an ex-Google designer:
Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.
— Doug Bowman, Goodbye Google


Customer Service, Google style

Now, this is not a typical rant against Google; I generally like Google's products. But we have been reading more about how difficult it is to actually get real customer service from the giant company. Read this business owner's account of Google's stonewalling and bureaucratic black hole that is customer service: Why I Sued Google (and Won). That's scary... reminiscent of once asking to speak to a supervisor at Delta Airlines when baggage was lost, and being told, "you can't, we don't allow that."


Top Internet Registrars: Remember that top market share does not guarantee the best service or practices from a Registrar. As stated elsewhere, PDG prefers, a reseller for the Open Source Tucows. (They're at #3 as of this writing.) Update March 2009: DomainDirect has become -- the new look and site functionality is excellent... the registrar tools are even better... and this new focus on "hovers" is mystifying to me... please stick to your core service!


Modern Media Strategy - Take it from Obama

How to use the internet for promotion like the Obama campaign: Post 2000+ videos to YouTube. Then, use a cross-posting video publishing site like TubeMogul to publish everywhere, then Live Broadcast on UStream, and archive them in high def on Hulu.


Mac users: open .docx files with your Office 2004!

Learn more from TUAW.


What is Grandcentral?

We here at PDG use Grandcentral for some of our voicemail-to-email capabilities. After Google bought the company, it instituted a freeze on new signups. That's too bad... this article explains why it is so great. It will be called Google Voice.


Quote: Spam accounts for almost 90 percent of all email and increasingly contains links to websites infected with malware. What is the speed of spam? 7.8 billion messages per hour! Learn more.


DNS Cache Poisoning Issue!

The Internet is facing a severe vulnerability in the global DNS system. Check to see if your ISP is still using an unpatched nameserver.

Click "Check my DNS" at Doxpara Research. Curious about the gritty, fascinating details? Read here.


Trying to go viral? good luck!


Google lifts the curtain a bit

This blog post from Google describes their search and ranking improvements and secrets. Read more at Google's blog.


Google goes Black for Earth Hour

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone.

Read more about the cause.


Browser Marketshare - 2008

Microsoft Internet Explorer 	 74.88% 
 Firefox 	 17.27% 
 Safari 	 5.70% 
 Opera 	 0.69% 
 Netscape 	 0.68% 

Top Operating Systems on the web:

  Month 	 Windows 	 Mac 	 Linux 	 iPhone
  Feb 2008 	 91.58% 	 7.46% 	 0.65% 	 0.14% 	



IM Networks

Image from

Looking for a domain name? Beware!

We've been reading about the practices of certain unscrupulous domain registrars who "steal" domain names after you search for them using their search tools. Verify that the registrar you're using does not do this! Read more on registrars who practice front running, and allow domain kiting or tasting.

We've had trouble recently with Network Solutions. They actively prevent an owner from switching away from them when it comes time for renewal. See more here and here. Beware of them.

While trying to transfer our website name to a better registrar,, NetSol locked our name for 60 days because we updated our email address. This is done supposedly in the name of "security". Conveniently, however, it causes us to miss the renewal date, and to avoid losing, we'd need to renew it with them! Basically, they are holding us hostage. We've complained to them, and are awaiting response on 1/28/08.

Update I: after multiple calls, disconnects and debates, they have lifted the "lock" and allowed us to transfer our name away. They absolutely irritate us with their tactics. More info on various practices here and some history.

It is unclear as to who the most ethical registrars are, but (which uses the openSRS registry) has served us and our clients well for years, and when we requested a statement from them about this topic, they pledged that they do not condone or do any of these things. Kudos to them.

Update II. The registrar GoDaddy has a reputation of being quick to censor its customers, with little or no warning. We reommend staying away from them as well. More.


Who's What in the web profession

Web guru: skilled with building websites using html/css (advanced css layout techniques required now), some Javascript; can create and optomize graphics for web (vector and bitmap). Can be a designer or not.

Programmer: skilled with html/css, php/mySQL webapp development, Javascript and Ajax technologies.

Flash jockey: skilled with Flash Actionscript, Flash animation, Javascript and illustration & graphic production skills. A creative/techie hybrid.

Web developer: combines all three trades, plus adds knowledge of information architecture, interface usability and project management. For additional help with larger projects, a programming and Flash team can be assembled.


Flash Player 9, Update 3

Adobe has released the final version of Flash Player 9 Update 3, which adds the HD video support announced earlier this year. Update 3 is the first public version of Flash Player 9 to include support for H.264 HD video playback, which means HD video on YouTube is now within the realm of possibilities.

It takes around a year for a Flash Player update to reach the magical 80+ percent saturation that sites of YouTube's scope want before unveiling new features, but there's plenty of other video sharing sites that have already made the HD leap, which puts some extra pressure on YouTube. And with a subset of YouTube content already encoded in H.264 for iPhone and AppleTV users, YouTube may offer web-based H.264 support sooner rather than later.

The updated Flash Player 9 also has better full screen support, Leopard compatibility for Mac users, and support for Microsoft Active Accessibility. Source: Wired blog.


Just in time for Christmas shopping: Links to search and buy products from Amazon.


SEO and Meta tags

Here's an explanation from Google about certain meta tags. Summary: they're not a method to improve your search rankings, but you need them anyway.

"Why does Google care about meta descriptions? We want snippets to accurately represent the web result. We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL's content. This directs them to good results faster and reduces the click-and-backtrack behavior that frustrates visitors and inflates web traffic metrics. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don't achieve this goal and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular, non-meta description, snippet. And it's worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't affect your ranking within search results."

Read for yourself what Google has to say about meta tags. Source from Google. And search results from a meta keyword tag search at google's blog.

Despite their lack of importance for ranking, Yahoo calls them important and offers advice for meta tags: Direct Yahoo link.


As many of you already know, Flash is a visual medium, and Googlebot doesn't have eyes. Googlebot can typically read Flash files and extract the text and links in them, but the structure and context are missing. Moreover, textual contents are sometimes stored in Flash as graphics, and since Googlebot doesn't currently have the algorithmic eyes needed to read these graphics, these important keywords can be missed entirely. All of this means that even if your Flash content is in our index, it might be missing some text, content, or links. Worse, while Googlebot can understand some Flash files, not all Internet spiders can.


Internet website attacks

Here's an explanation from Ars Technica about "denial-of-service" (DoS) attacks. DoS attacks typically flood a web server with thousands of requests per second to try and overwhelm the server's ability to respond and make it hard or impossible for legitimate viewers to access the site. Typically, if a single computer is launching the DoS attack, it is simple to figure out which IP address is behind the attack and block it from the server. Thus, attackers tend to use Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS) from many computers at once.

Some firms saw attacks from over 100,000 unique IP addresses, and in May 2007 have recorded over 250,000 IP addresses involved in "botnet" attacks. The largest such attack involved over 300,000 computers and was difficult to stop, as new IP addresses would keep attacking faster than the company could block them. There is a general solution to defend against the attack, but the solution needs to be applied to each web site individually. Source


Current Browser Popularity

Get Firefox

Microsoft Internet Explorer 79.75%
Firefox 13.67%
Safari (Mac OSX) 4.70%
Netscape 0.79%
Opera 0.73%
Mozilla 0.19%
Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer 0.03%
Microsoft Internet Explorer=17 0.03%
PSP (PlayStation Portable) Internet Browser 0.02%
Danger Web Browser 0.02%
Blazer 0.02%
Microsoft Internet Explorer 0.01%
Unknown 0.01%
WebTV Internet Terminal 0.01%
WebTV Plus Receiver 0.01%

Report generated Sunday, February 25, 2007

2007 The Truth About Coal – There is a need to put a price on carbon to force companies to abandon older, dirtier technologies for newer, cleaner ones. Right now, everyone is using the atmosphere like a municipal dump, depositing carbon dioxide free. Start charging for the privilege and people will find smarter ways to do business. A carbon tax is one approach. Another is to impose a steadily decreasing cap on emissions and let individual companies figure out ways to stay below the cap. February 25, 2007 editorial NYT.
2006 The top 100 sustainable companies. The Global 100 is a list of publicly-traded, MSCI World-listed companies that, based on research and analysis by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, have the best developed abilities, relative to their industry peers, to manage the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities they face. The companies were selected from the Innovest universe of around 1,800 securities.
2006 Netcraft released this survey of computer monitor screen-size popularity for December 2006. The moral: we still need to design to the screen space available on 17" monitors. (FYI, our office displays are set at 1680x1050)
2007 Google has released many fine examples of embedded code "gadgets" – see an example map on our site.
2006 NYT posts this graphic about search engine popularity in October 2006:

"Enemies of the internet" named… "

A list of 13 "enemies of the internet" has been released by human rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

North Korea
Saudi Arabia

Source: BBC


Browser Market Share for October, 2006

Microsoft Internet Explorer 82.10%
Firefox 12.46%
Safari 3.53%
Netscape 0.85%
Opera 0.64%



Do you buy music online from iTunes? Stop! Read this:

...for some music lovers their [digital] music library could go flat as quickly as a soda. In 2004, Coke launched an online music store called mycokemusic. They quickly became the #1 online music store in the UK. Well, a lot changes in a couple of years on the net and what was once a shining success is now a distant player behind iTunes UK. So, Coke has decided to shutter the service by the end of July. The problem for customers is that mycokemusic sold digitally restricted files in Microsoft's Windows Media format. When buyers play their songs they are required to phone to the mothership and request authorization. But Coca Cola's announcement means the mothership is going away. With no authorization those purchased songs become digital flotsam because they will not play at all and the consumers entire music investment vanishes. It's a stark illustration that buying DRM songs is really a rental not a purchase because someone else controls your access to the property. Read a PDF or read the article online.

The better solution is to buy your MP3s from Amazon or eMusic.

  Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye
Potential readers can make snap decisions in just 50 milliseconds. In the crowded and competitive world of the web, companies hoping to make millions from e-commerce should take notice, the researchers say. "Unless the first impression is favourable, visitors will be out of your site before they even know that you might be offering more than your competitors…" Go here:

The corporate toll on the Internet (4-06)
Telecom giant AT&T plans to charge online businesses to speed their services through its DSL lines. Critics say the scheme violates every principle of the Internet, favors deep-pocketed companies, and is bound to limit what we see and hear online. By Farhad Manjoo. Weblink (needs account) | Download PDFPDF download (free).

As usual, the telecoms are spreading disinformation. In addition to lobbying, broadband firms have "launched a campaign aimed at urging Americans to "join their fight". Large telecom firms back a "coalition" called Hands Off the Internet, which argues that instituting network neutrality amounts to government "regulation" of the Internet. On its Web site, the group -- which is funded by, among other companies, AT&T, beseeches, "Join us and say NO to government regulation of the Internet!" "

Opponents say that regulation is the only way to save the Internet from the likes of AT&T. "They would have the pipe split between the public Internet -- which might get 1 Mbps speeds -- and a toll lane on the rest of the 100 Mbps pipe they're laying…


Google has released a year-end review of popular search terms across several categories. Called the Google Zeitgeist. Yahoo has the Yahoo Buzz. And Lycos Search does something similar.

Google has released google chat, google video, and google financials.

Google market share – April 06:

Google -- 48.62%
Yahoo! -- 12.77%
Google U.K. -- 9.54%
MSN -- 8.66%


Browser Market Share – April 06: (from

Microsoft Internet Explorer -- 84.70%
Firefox -- 10.05%
Safari -- 3.19%
Netscape -- 1.05%

  Trade in your old cell phone: | |
  This nifty webtool analyzes any phone number to identify whether it is a cellular number, what country of origin, and from what exchange it originates. Also, AT&T offers free country and city code lookups.
South Africa has a language problem. Its 46 million people speak 11 official tongues. Enter the Human Language Technology (HLT) unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria—one of the largest R&D, technology, and innovation institutions in Africa.
  Habitus Homes, LLC specializes in green building techniques.
  Wired News reports on a "solar tower" to be built in Australia.
  Jwire is a handy WiFi (wireless Internet access) search tool. Search Portland, Maine

Soft and fuzzy: the 10 Laws of Life.

  Have a look at this thought-provoking animated graphic about corporate politics.
  Startling information about how much of our privacy is undermined by the travel industry. Know what a PNR is? Some reservation databases are so old that they weren't built with delete functions! Edward Hasbrouck, the Practical Nomad, writes about this in his book.
  An outline of Temperament theory – from David Keirsey's book, "Please Understand Me II". A must read for those interested in leadership and relationship.
  QT iconLike Florida alligator wrangling? View a snippet from a miniDV camera.
Quicktime required.

Links to recommended products from Amazon.

  List of all Companies accredited as Internet registrars.
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A designer knows they have achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

– Antoine De Saint-Exupery

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