AppleTV Release Date – AppleTV Delayed


Originally expected to release at the end of February, the launch of AppleTV has been pushed back to mid-March. What’s the outlook? Will AppleTV flourish or fail? I think that compared to Windows Media Center, it doesn’t stand a chance, however as Apple has show through time, it’s all about the marketing. Right now, I’d be willing to bet that more people know about AppleTV than about Windows Media Center. The difference? AppleTV hasn’t even been released yet and Windows Media Center has been out for over 3 years. Microsoft is sitting on a goldmine, they just need to push their product better. Forget the Zune and the stupid commercials for it… the people have chosen the iPods. Move on, and start pushing the Windows Media Center PC.

From a usability standpoint, I expect AppleTV to be extremely simple and user-friendly, however, I also think that Microsoft has already crossed that bridge. Windows Media Center is powerful and easy to navigate, I’ve been using it for years to manage and play all my music, videos and picture through my television – the new version that comes with Windows Vista is just a bonus.

Any thoughts on AppleTV vs. Windows Media Center?

Google Owns You – Part 1 – Gmail – Are Your Emails Really YOURS?


This is the first of many reviews that spawned from this article: Google Owns You! if you haven’t a chance to read it yet, check it out before you continue. If you have read it, enjoy, and I hope to hear your comments!

Ever since Google first launched Gmail, they had been under the microscope and often criticized for “reading” peoples email. Due to the fact that the Gmail web interface displays appropriate advertisements along with each message, Gmail is considered to be “reading” your mail. So does Google actually read your mail? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. Instead, when you open a message, it is scanned for keywords and appropriate advertisements are displayed accordingly, just like Google AdSense ads.

This site is primarily about Technology, Internet, Search Engines, Photography and few other random categories so this page is way off base in terms of content (and was created for testing purposes only). What I’m trying to display here is that the Google ad engine “reads” the content of the page, whether it be a web page, or the email in your Gmail account, and it displays appropriate ads, or at least ads that are best fit upon analyzing the content of the page that is being displayed.

Could Google take advantage of the wealth of information that they store in peoples email? Of course they could, but let’s be honest here – do you really think that we have to worry about a largely traded public company worth as much as they’re worth using the data maliciously or illegally? Let’s say for instance that Google did want to abuse the power that they have, how could they do it? Here’s one example (which could probably help them take their profits from billions to trillions): With each Gmail user, Google could begin to store an associated list of keywords (keywords taken from email subject lines, and email bodies).

If they did this for every user, they would then have a HUGE database with very specific marketing information to which they could approach companies directly and:

  1. Sell an email list of users that match a certain set of keywords specified by the advertiser
  2. Sell direct adspace to advertisers, and consequently make the ads more intrusive into Gmail

Here’s another thought – Say you’re not too excited about Gmail because you think they may “read” your mail, and you just aren’t too sure about the privacy you’ll be getting. Does that exclude you from the above scenario? Not necessarily. Think about it, just because you don’t have a Gmail account it doesn’t mean that you won’t be sending email to people who do have Gmail accounts. Their is nothing stopping Google from logging common keywords for EVERY email address that sends an email to a Gmail user.

My personal take on Gmail? I think its a great product – far superior to any other web-based email client that is out there, plus with the added Google Search built in, and nearly 3GB of storage now? You can’t beat it. Am I comfortable with them reading my mail? Not really, but then again, they’re not really reading my mail.

Score

Google: 1
Skeptics: 0

Google Owns You! Google’s Increasing Marketshare


Everyday, Google gains a larger portion of internet users who switch to Google from long time established providers. Why are so many making the switch? It’s simple – Google provides simple, intuitive, easy-to-use web apps that increase productivity, provide information in clear and concise ways, and the best part about all of this is that they provide access to this multitude of tools for free, and under a single Google Account – no reason to sign up at 20+ different sites & remember 20 different logins & passwords. Here’s a list of services that Google currently offers:

  • Google AdWords
  • Google Alerts
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Base
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Checkout
  • Google Desktop
  • Google Finance
  • Froogle
  • Gmail
  • Google Groups
  • Google Maps
  • Google Notebook
  • Orkut
  • Picasa
  • Google Docs & Spreadsheets
  • Google Reader
  • Google Talk
  • Google Video
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Search History

Now, there are 22 different services listed there, and if I looked hard enough, I could probably come up with some more. Here’s the scary part – All of these services collect information from the end user… YOU!!! Now, I’m not saying that your information isn’t safe with Google, but consider this… they crawl, index and cache billions of web pages, they offer users Gmail accounts that provide 2GB+ of storage. They’ve obviously got tons of virtual space to store all of this information – that information also includes what you’re doing on the internet! They log and track everything else, it certainly wouldn’t be much more difficult to log and track individual user activity would it?


I’m not saying that we all need to panic and run away from Google, but has anyone actually read their Privacy Policy? I sure haven’t… it’s probably 500 pages long with more fine print than anyone could ever imagine. Stay tuned as I review each Google service and look into exactly what information is shared with them. There are 22 different ones on there, so please be patitent… I do have other stuff to do, but if there are ones that you would rather read about, please comment and let me know which ones I should get to first.

The Recovery Process – One Week After Surgery – Ligament Injury in Dogs


If you haven’t seen my original two posts, be sure to checkout my first article, read Treating a Torn/Ruptured Cranial Crucial Ligament (CCL) in Dogs (ACL), and my second article The Recovery Process – Keeping an Active Dog Inactive.

It has been a week now and our dog is finally getting used to being confined to her small cage. Our Veterinary doctor couldn’t stress enough how important it was to keep the dog without activity, so we’re doing our best to keep her caged up all day and all night without any activity. It’s hard, but with the help of some sedative pills, it has become manageable. As you may know, pit bulls have very persistent and stubborn personalities, so keeping a dog who has been extremely active all her life penned up in a cage all day is somewhat difficult.

Today, we went in for her one week checkup where they remove her bandages from the leg she had surgery on, and they removed the pain patch that was applied to her opposite leg. They checked the staples (sutures) and after deciding that everything was fine, they let us go – no charge too! With our dog becoming more and more restless with each day that passes, we found it necessary to ask for more sedatives for her, which the veterinary clinic gladly provided. So far, she has been very mellow since having her bandages removed, I just hope it stays that way. She hasn’t paid much attention to her 6-inch wound on her hind leg that has been stapled shut, and I’m really hoping that it stays that way, because I really don’t want to have to put her in the “lamp-shade”.

After the first couple days, it has gotten easier, but the hardest part is just leaving your dog locked up – with no activity (other than bathroom breaks a couple times per day). I hope those of you who read this find this information helpful, and I’ll try to post pictures if anyone is interested.

Halo 3 Beta Start Date, End Date and Length of Beta Test


Okay, phases 1 and 2 of the Halo 3 beta signup contest are now over, what’s the deal with now getting an actual look at the game? Apparently Bungie Studios is being overwhelmed with emails from people complaining that they didn’t get accepted into the Halo 3 beta. These people need to shutup, because I got my copy, and I absolutely suck at Halo! I’m still a “noob”… haha!!!

UPDATE 5/12/2007

If you’re looking for the actual release time click here.

UPDATE 5/16/2007

If you’re looking for the release time for the Crackdown Halo 3 Beta click here.

UPDATE 5/16/2007

Halo 3 Beta Fix for Crackdown Users

Using all of my knowledge, I was able to come up with a firm date of which I think the Halo 3 beta will actually become available for download. After all of my reading and searching through the internet, combined with a couple conversations from some “gaming insiders”, my estimate had been narrowed down to April… I was originally guessing that April 15th would be the day that we’d see the download, but after reading Bungie’s latest I’m thinking that we’re more realistically looking at a May release date.

“There are still many details of the Halo 3 beta to be finalized but one thing we did want to confirm is that the beta will not be starting with the release of Crackdown. Crackdown will be available in stores starting Tuesday, 2/20, but the Halo 3 multiplayer beta start date is still being finalized. We’re still aiming for a Spring release, but it could be more like late Spring.”

Is May even considered Spring still? I don’t know, but either way, my money is on Halo 3 Beta, released and downloadable May 3, 2007.

Halo 3 Beta Start Date, End Date and Length of Beta Test Halo 3 Beta Start Date, End Date and Length of Beta Test Halo 3 Beta Start Date, End Date and Length of Beta Test

Here’s the other kicker… the length of the actual beta period. Bungie (and Mircrosoft Game Studios) are certainly not going to let the beta run all the way up until the game is actually released in Fall of 2007 (Fall – somewhere between September 23 and December 21). Anyone have any ideas on the actual length of the beta trial period? I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s going to involve the number 3. My guess? Halo 3 Beta once activated, will be available for 3 weeks, 3 days, 3 hours, 3 minutes and 3 seconds. How’s that for your Rule of 3?

Google Sitemaps – Improve Your Site Based on Google’s Findings

If you haven’t read my first article, check out Google Sitemaps – Get Crawled, Indexed and Searched Once your site is submitted to Google Sitemaps, they provide you with a wealth of information that can help you to improve your site. Once Google has downloaded your sitemap, it will continue to do so moving forward, constantly giving you feedback on your site and all of its pages.

For instance, I just logged into my Google Sitemaps account and found out that the sitemap for i.nconspicuo.us was download 27 minutes ago with a total of 74 URLs submitted. So let’s get started interpreting the data. When you initially login to your Google Sitemaps account, you’ll be presented with a listing of all the sites for which you have submitted a sitemap, click on the site you want to view data for – I’ll be using this site for the example, so I’ll provide screenshots and information accordingly.

Diagnostic Tab

After selecting the site, you’ll be presented with a Google Sitemaps Summary Page (fig 1) This page will give you last crawl, index status (whether your site has been indexed or not – Google can crawl a site, but it can sometimes take up to a month before it is indexed) and web crawl errors. From the summary page, you can:

  • See Google’s review of your robots.txt file (if you have one)
  • Setup your preferred URL – for instance, I have set my preferred URL to be i.nconspicuo.us rather than www.nconspicuo.us or nconpicuo.us – this way, I have a Domain That Says Something
  • Check the crawl rate of your site – Google Sitemaps Crawl Rate Page (fig 2)
  • Enable/Disable Enhanced Image Search

Google Sitemaps – Get Crawled, Indexed and Searched

As with all of their tools and products, Google Sitemaps is always being expanded and enhanced to be a better product that provides the best information. How’s it work? It’s really pretty simple, you upload an XML file that details your site structure to Google and it crawls the listed pages. The more often you upload your site, the more often you should upload a new sitemap. The sitemap that you upload not only contains the pages on your site, but it allows you to give them weights or priority levels from 0 to 1.

For instance, if you have blog that has a constantly changing homepage, you’re going to want to give that page a higher weight than say your contact page that is static and never changes. You are also able to specify how often pages change – Always, Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly or Never. My site gets about 50% of its traffic from Google searches, so I’m a big advocate of using Google Sitemaps. If you’re a WordPress user, I’d recommend this plugin: http://www.arnebrachhold.de/2005/06/05/google-sitemaps-generator-v2-final It makes the job simple, all you’ve got to do is specify a few parameters and it does the rest for you.

Not currently a Google Sitemap user and want to get started? First off, you need to sign into your Google Account, if you don’t have one, go get one – http://www.google.com/accounts/ Once you’ve got your Google Account setup, log into Google Sitemaps – http://www.google.com/sitemaps/ Add your site(s) and get them verified, and start creating XML sitemap files for Google to consume!

Make sure to read my followup article on how to interpret the information the Google Sitemaps provides.

SEO – Optimize Search Results by Displaying Friendly URLs

Ever since I launched this site, my traffic has been increasing. One key change that WordPress users can make to help their search engine traffic and ranking increase is to replace the dynamically created URL’s with Friendly URL’s. For instance, by default, WordPress displays URL’s as http://i.nconspicuo.us/?p=22 But by changing a couple options in the WordPress admin section, you can change the dynamic URL into a URL with some meaning like this: http://i.nconspicuo.us/2006/11/21/my-top-10-ways-to-get-google-to-crawl-and-index-your-site/

From a SEO standpoint, this is pure gold. Now, I not only have the title of my post in the <title> tag of my site, but I have it on the page in the <h1> tag, and I also have all of the same, relevant keywords in my URL string. Believe it or not, Google (and other search engines) do care what is in the URL. Why? I think Google’s ranking algorithm tries to get as close as possible to thinking like a human. Google will crawl and index your site either way, but using a friendly URL instead of a dynamically generated URL will give your post more relevance and consequently a better page rank. http://i.nconspicuo.us/?p=22 is basically meaningless when you want to know what a post is about, however http://i.nconspicuo.us/2006/11/21/my-top-10-ways-to-get-google-to-crawl-and-index-your-site/ gives you all the info you need – site that the post is on, posting date, and the post title. So if I decide to email this link to a friend, they’ll know just by looking at the link whether or not they want to spend the time to click and read it (Side Note: Any and All links that I send to my friends are worth clicking).

What if I don’t use WordPress? Can I still make my site work like this?

Antonella Barba – Most Googled Name on the Internet?

My wife and I were watching American Idol the other night, and she tells me that “Antonella Barba” is the most Googled name on the internet right now. I ask her how she knows that, and she tells me that Mark & Brian said so. I’ve got no reason to disagree with “The Way” and “The Light” so I said, “Okay, so she is”.

Today, I decided to check and see if it was true, and it sure seems like it is. American Idol usually spawns many fan sites and stuff, but it looks like this girl had been trying to get her start in the entertainment or modeling industry far before American Idol. Out of curiousity, is there a screening process for American Idol? Because apparently, anyone can just log onto Flickr and check out this broads tits… I would have that that American Idol would screen out contestants like this – For Simon Cowell’s personal collection.

Check out some of the links below:

And for all her real fans:

Update

Just read an article stating the very reason that “Antonella Barba” is the most Googled name on the internet right now, in addition to having a national forum to promote herself:

Recently, there has been emergence of racy photographs which include Barba topless along with other women on a beach which was first saw in discuxx.com. These pictures have received mainstream attention including a February 27, 2007 featured article in USA Today , a full segment concerning the controversy on the February 26, 2007 edition of FOX News’ The O’Reilly Factor and also on multiple episodes of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann (as recent as March 2007), both of which showed images of the Vote for the Worst pages featuring these images. Photos of Barba posing in a wet t-shirt in the fountain of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. have also surfaced; however, Barba’s friend Coluccio has stated that the sexually explicit photos were fake.

Tramadol (Ultram) – For My Dog?

I’ve just learned that Tramadol is often subscribed to adults who suffer chronic moderate to severe joint pain. So because our dog ruptured her CCL ligament in her knee, does that automatically qualify her for Tramadol? A drug that is used to treat joint pain in humans? I was looking at the Ultram (fancy name for Tramadol – if you ask me Tramadol sounds more fancy) website and saw that dosage should be started at 25 mg/day.

Our dog gets 1-1 1/2 50mg pills 3 times a day. So, where a normal, let’s say 150lb. adult would be taking 75 mg/day, our 60lb Pit Bull is taking 150mg-225mg/day. I really hope that this helps make up for the fact that she is stuck in a cage all day every day for the next 2-3 months.

PS – I realize painkillers are sometimes a “recreational” drug now, so I went ahead and put this post into my “Sports/Recreation” category as well. 😉