March 13, 2005
Polka Dot Toaster
You can buy one for $64 at the Chocolate Moose in Washington, D.C.
[via Liz Seymour and the Washington Post]
MorphWorld: Elyse Taylor into Angela Lindvall
This newcomer from Australia (above and just below) is becoming quite popular among
designers and editors.
She reminds me
a lot of Angela (above and below),
with perhaps a touch
of the elegance
of Elaine Irwin Mellencamp (above).
'Google's AdSense a Bonanza For Some Web Sites' — but not bookofjoe
Above is the headline of this past Friday's USA Today story by Jefferson Graham (one of the paper's very best reporters), the most balanced piece I've yet read on the pros and cons of using Google's AdSense program to bring in revenue with one's website.
From the article:
- The downside of the AdSense economy, critics charge, is that the avalanche of ads has created a new form of spam and is destroying the integrity of sites.
"This is a program that rewards people not for creating the best content, but for how to create sites to attract more advertising," says Danny Sullivan, editor of the SearchEngineWatch online newsletter.
"AdSense has nothing to do with search. It effectively turns the Internet into a billboard for Google's ads."
Tales of AdSense riches range from a few hundred dollars a month to $50,000 or more a year, though high-dollar paydays are rare.
They require a website with tons of traffic and the ability to put in 18-hour days working the system.
Small website operators have flocked to AdSense as a way to attract advertising.
To participate, they sign up at Google, which reviews the site.
Once a small piece of computer code language is implanted on an accepted site, Google does the rest — matching ad links from its warehouse of clients to appropriate sites.
There's an art to optimizing a site to attract more links — and generate more revenue.
Website publishers need to be creative, says Dave Lavinsky of TopPayingKeyWords.com, an AdSense advice site.
A house painter advertising his services on a home-made site is leaving money on the table if he mentions only house painting, Lavinsky says.
"'Housepainting' is a 20-cent word. 'Home improvement' is worth $2, so you should create content for that."
But Sullivan says keyword tricks hurt the editorial integrity of sites.
Another problem, he says, is the proliferation of computer-generated directories with links to hotels, restaurants and entertainment and no real editorial content, fueled by the availability of "Ads by Google" checks.
"Click fraud" is another nettlesome issue for Google and Yahoo.
Some competitors click ads just to run up the other guy's bills.
Web publishers with AdSense get their friends to click ads so they can get more money.
Some savvy webmasters have set up automated clicking models called "Hitbots" or "Clickbots," which click away all day, and cost the advertiser.
University of California researcher John Battelle, who is writing a book on search, says the success of AdSense has built a "growing, extremely sophisticated offshore industry."
"There are more of these sites than you can imagine," he says.
"The robots click on the ads and then none of the clicks turn into leads for the advertisers. That's not how it's supposed to work."
Google and Yahoo say they are working on the problem, but Battelle doesn't think that's enough.
What I liked about the story is that it gave me a rational, specific basis to undergird what has been my feeling all along, namely that putting ads on bookofjoe is not a good thing, regardless of money that might accrue as a result.
As I think even a casual reader will notice, this blog is as uncluttered as I can make it without losing function.
Thus, I have no list of links, as do most blogs; no list of recent posts; no buttons to send you to Amazon, or let you "Donate" via PayPal," or anything at all beyond a button linking to Blogcritics,
a site I've been a contributor to for some time, and where I bumped into the incomparable Phillip Winn, technical engineer and philosopher extraordinaire (a rare combination: I guarantee you Ray Ozzie or Tim Page do not think as deeply about what forms the basis of all our interactions with others as does Phillip — but that's a subject for another post on another day), and a link to Technorati,
so you can see where I reside among the eight million+ blogs in the expanding blogosphere (bookofjoe's around number 2,000).
Phillip has Google's Adsense on his website, and finds it brings in $50-$100 a month.
I could probably earn $500 a month by adding AdSense.
Not worth it.
The added clutter, first of all, the actuality of something appearing on bookofjoe that I didn't put there, is very off-putting.
As is the sudden injection of exhortation to do something by the ads.
Then there's the element of creating content to increase AdSense income, as detailed in the USA Today story above.
I don't think I would do that, but it's hard not to be affected even by the very possibility existing.
I'm reminded of the HMO model, and why in the end it is always bad for the patient.
Simplified, here's how it works: an HMO tells a family doctor who joins its provider group that she or he will have X number of families a year who will use her as their primary physician.
She will be allotted, say, $1 million per year for all lab tests, x-rays, consults, referrals, hospitalizations and surgical procedures on her patients.
At the end of the year, all the money that hasn't been spent is hers as a performance bonus.
Now, would you like to be one of her patients, and have a recurrent headache?
I wouldn't: because there's an overwhelming incentive on the doctor's part to simply say, "Go home, take some aspirin, and rest."
Sure, perhaps a CT scan or an MRI would be more appropriate, especially since the headaches increases with coughing or sneezing or anything similar that increases intracranial pressure, but those tests would automatically pull $1,000 out of the doctor's performance bonus, wouldn't they?
Easy for you to say it shouldn't affect her judgment but hey — if wishes were fishes, we'd all be in the sea.
The rest of us see an inherent conflict that is very adverse for the patient.
And that's why there won't be AdSense on bookofjoe.
The making of the President — Version 2008
Two whip-smart, strong women of conviction.
A campaign like none other ever seen before.
This battle would bring Americans to the polls in unprecedented numbers.
Britain had its iteration of the Iron Lady in the person of Margaret Thatcher.
Now it's time to bring forth our version.
Let the best woman win.
Watching paint dry — with an atomic-force microscope
"Not as boring as you thought," was the headline for The Economist's January 8 story about how things down at the nanoscale suddenly take on a much-altered appearance and importance.
Infinitesima (great name), a small firm based in Bristol, England, has invented what it calls the VideoAFM (atomic-force microscope).
This machine is able to actually make movies of paint drying, molecule by molecule.
Why should we care?
Because not only can their device record, it can also do synthesis at the same scale.
Which means that it can perhaps be used as a molecular pen, if you will, to enable a form of nanolithography, creating devices whose components have nanometer (billionths of a meter) dimensions.
The paper describing the details is awaiting publication in Applied Physics Letters.
Meanwhile, here's The Economist's story.
- Not as Boring as You Thought
Watching paint dry may lead to some exciting new technologies
Believe it or not, there are a small but significant number of people in this world who watch paint dry for a living.
And watching paint dry, if you look closely enough, is fascinating.
Plenty of researchers are mesmerised by exactly how the paint comes off the brush, how the polymers within it interact in order to adhere to a surface, and what happens when the water, or other solvent, evaporates.
This sort of thing reveals how the chemistry really works, and thus how to make better paint.
The excitement of watching a molecule of water lift off from the surface of a wall is, however, hampered by the fact that the only available photographs of the action are stills.
It is like trying to work out how to play football from a series of time-lapse frames.
But help is at hand. Andrew Humphris, chief technology officer of Infinitesima, a small firm based in Bristol, in Britain, has come up with a system that allows you to take a movie of drying paint.
The existing method of photographing molecules is more "feely" than "movie."
The camera is a device called an atomic-force microscope (AFM).
This works by running the tip of a probe over the molecules in question, rather as the stylus of an old-fashioned record player runs across the surface of an LP.
The bumps and grooves picked up by an AFM can be translated into a picture, but it takes between 30 seconds and a minute to build up an image.
Scan much faster than that and the stylus starts to resonate, blurring the result.
But Infinitesima's VideoAFM can, according to Dr Humphris, go 1,000 times faster than a standard AFM.
That is fast enough to allow videos to be taken of, for example, molecules evaporating—information of great value to the paint-making industry, to which Dr Humphris hopes to sell many of his machines.
He is coy about exactly how they work, since the paper describing the details is awaiting publication in Applied Physics Letters.
But the process for keeping the stylus under control seems to involve some high-powered computing and signal processing.
Infinitesima is testing the VideoAFM by looking at polymers as they crystallise.
The movies resemble frost spreading across a chilly window.
But the VideoAFM can do more than mere analysis.
It can do synthesis as well.
Just as a carelessly applied stylus can alter the surface of a record, so an AFM can alter the surface it is scanning at the molecular level, in effect writing on that surface.
Such writing, if it were fast enough, could be used as a form of lithography for making devices whose components had dimensions of nanometres (billionths of a metre).
Nanotechnology, as engineering at this scale is known, is all the rage, and nanotech firms could end up using the VideoAFM's descendants in their factories.
In the meantime, live paint-drying action could soon be coming to a television near you.
For $11.99 you get this quaintly-named device that "clips on to any tool or waist belt and gives you a quick and handy place for your most used tools."
I like it.
"It's fully adjustable to hold most cordless drills, pneumatic nail guns and staple guns."
I'm sure you can think of many other uses.
But then, that's why I pay you the bigg bukks, isn't it?
"Designed for left or right-handers."
"Colors may vary."
So what're you waiting for?
Once they sell out, you're gonna wish you had one.
Trust me ....
The Paucity of Wisdom — by E. M. Cioran
I hate wise men because they are lazy, cowardly, and prudent. To the philosophers' equanimity, which makes them indifferent to both pleasure and pain, I prefer devouring passions. The sage knows neither the tragedy of passion, nor the fear of death, nor risk and enthusiasm, nor barbaric, grotesque, or sublime heroism. He talks in proverbs and gives advice. He does not live, feel, desire, wait for anything. He levels down all the incongruities of life and then suffers the consequences. So much more complex is the man who suffers from limitless anxiety. The wise man's life is empty and sterile, for it is free from contradiction and despair. An existence full of irreconcilable contradictions is so much richer and creative. The wise man's resignation springs from inner void, not inner fire. I would rather die of fire than of void.