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August 11, 2006

'I'm in search of a lifestyle that does not require my presence' — Kinky Friedman


When I read the sentence above in a Washington Post Style section story many, many years ago, I was transfixed.


Because it perfectly described what I'd always been looking for.

The article featured an interview with Friedman on the occasion of the publication of his latest book.

Now he's big, running for governor of Texas.

I hope he realizes that will require his presence.

But I digress.

See, the thing is, I hate being stuck somewhere under someone else's control.

So the virtual life is enormously attractive.

Yuki Noguchi's July 28 Washington Post front-page story about the new idle rich — people who manage to make enough money via advertising on their website and/or blogs to do whatever they like from wherever they like whenever they feel like it — received a very, very close reading here.

Read it for yourself below; then we'll talk.

    A New Model For Getting Rich Online

    Investors Not Needed, Just a Site With Ads

    For hundreds of thousands of people, the dream of making an Internet fortune works like this: Earn pennies at a time in exchange for allowing Google Inc. or Yahoo Inc. to place advertisements on a personal or small-business Web page.

    Take Andrew Leyden, former House Commerce Committee counsel and founder of a dot-com venture that failed, who started PodcastDirectory.com, a search engine for podcasts. As the site's popularity rose from a hundred hits a month in 2004 to nearly a million now, Leyden started making the equivalent of an entry-level government worker's salary -- $30,000 to $40,000 a year -- simply because people clicked on ads. That allowed him to work at home in Chesapeake Beach, Md., trying to make more money by attracting still more traffic to his site.

    "I went from literally 26 cents a week or something like that to several dollars an hour," he said, by using Google's AdSense software, which solicits bids from marketers who, in turn, pay to run ads on his site. "I get paid while mowing the lawn. I get paid while cleaning the garage. I get paid driving my wife to her office, buying groceries, seeing a movie, playing video games, or just surfing the Internet. That's really the nice thing about AdSense: No matter what I'm doing, people keep clicking and I keep getting paid."

    A decade ago, the Internet dream was to score through venture-capital financing and by raising cash in public stock offerings. Now, people with creative ideas can get rich relatively quickly by permitting advertisers to piggyback on any Web site that attracts a lot of viewers. Technology can direct ads to more and more specific audiences, rewarding entrepreneurship on the smallest scale -- even Web pages filled with obscure and homemade content.

    "We have a segment of customers called hopeful hobbyists" who have Web sites devoted to anything they might care about, from crochet to sailing, and who hope to eventually make enough money to quit their day jobs, said Willan Johnson, vice president of Yahoo Publisher Network, which launched a test version of its software last year.

    David Miles Jr. and Kato Leonard, two 20-year-olds in Louisville, say they collect $100,000 a month from their year-old site, Freeweblayouts.net, which gives away designs that people can use on MySpace social-networking pages. One couple blogged about their home reconstruction and made money to help pay the mortgage on their new house. Jock Friedly's business, Storming Media LLC, allows users to download public documents; he used the money his Web site made on ads for new online ventures.

    Companies like Google, in turn, also find profit in such sites. In the second quarter, Google got $997 million, or 41 percent of its revenue, through the network of Web sites that host ads through the AdSense system. Its software, like Yahoo's, prices ads based on popularity. When users click the ads, the software keeps detailed records, including the number of page views and the amount of commission the site's host earns from the ad -- all of which Web site owners can keep track of by logging on to their accounts. Every month, Google pays publishers by check or direct deposit.

    Ad publishers must be approved through Google, to ensure that the ads don't subsidize pornography or gambling, or contain material that is racist, violent or related to illegal drugs. Among other things, Google says it watches to make sure people don't inflate their revenues by clicking on their own ads -- a practice known as "click fraud" that has plagued online marketing.

    The popularity of making money this way also has led to creation of "made-for-AdSense" Web pages that contain little content and lots of ads, which critics say clutter the Internet and divert online searches.

    The system depends on the cooperation of advertisers, who have to see that their money is well spent, said Jennifer Slegg, an online publisher who is a consultant on AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network, and who makes roughly half her income from AdSense ads.

    "I hear tons of stories about people who were facing bankruptcy but now are able to pay off their houses in full," she said.

    The biggest moneymakers tend to be people who started sites to document their passions. Matther Daimler, 28, developed an obsession with finding the most comfortable seats on the long airline flights he took for business. He would look at a better-situated traveler and think: "He has more legroom. I want that seat next time."

    In 2001, he took to cataloguing on his SeatGuru site all the seats on his usual United Airlines flight, rating them for best legroom, the most recline, access to video and audio entertainment, and proximity to different types of laptop power sources. Soon, at the request of people who read his site, he started taking information on other flights. He now keeps track of seats on 34 airlines.

    Daimler and his wife now work full time on SeatGuru, which gets 700,000 visitors a month. About half of the site's revenue comes through AdSense -- $10,000 to $20,000 a month -- and the rest comes from ad deals that Daimler makes with companies directly.

    Tracking clicks and the money they earn itself has become a passion for Leyden. "In the middle of the night I'll wonder how much I made," he said, so he'll check his page's status every 15 minutes.

    The money that comes in acts like microfinancing for many sites, said Kim Malone, director of AdSense. "We're enabling creativity, 5 cents at a time."

    Friedly, for example, started his company in Washington in 2001 to make it easier for contractors, scientists and researchers to find, download and purchase public documents. He reluctantly signed up to put ads on the site. "I was skeptical because when you sell something, you want to focus on the product, not refer people to other Web sites," he said.

    But with more than 10,000 hits a day, the income started adding up. "I was surprised by how much we made. It was an excellent supplement to the business, because we didn't have to do a lot."

    Friedly has since started PatentStorm LLC, a site where businesses can search patent records, without outside investment. "In essence, Google has turned into a venture capital or an angel investor in my business."

    But if Google giveth, it also taketh away, Friedly said. As people put up more sites that compete with his for traffic, the number of hits on his main site has declined.


Here's how I see it.

There's no way, no possible way bookofjoe won't be degraded the instant I start carrying advertising.

The reason: introducing anything adds clutter, which I abhor on my blog.


If the money is big enough, I will surely cave.

And therein lies the tipping point: the money has to be so significant that it leads to an improvement in my finances much greater than the pain of looking at the ad-riddled site.

I'm not there yet, but fair warning: I'm close — and getting closer every day.

The only thing I can see heading off the inevitable commercialization of bookofjoe is someone offering to pay me for the exclusive right to feature bookofjoe on their portal or online network.






The bidding is now open.

Inquire within.

August 11, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

What would you pay for an apple slicer?


Is there an upper limit?

Or is the sky the only one?

Let's start with the version pictured above.

From the website:

    OXO Apple Divider

    Slice and core fruit with ease using this apple divider.

    Its raised soft-grip handles give you non-slip leverage and keep your hands from hitting the countertop.

    Stainless steel blades; dishwasher-safe.

    7" long x 4-1/4" wide x 2-1/4" high.



Clearly the folks out back in the OXO skunkworks, buoyed by the runaway success of their superb Mango Splitter, are out to split anything that has a hint of division potential.

Note the name of their dedicated apple-space product: "Apple Divider."

Now let's have a look at the lower-priced spread (below) — as it were.


From the website:

    Apple Slicer

    With its cute red apple design and wide, easy-grip handles, this slicer cuts and cores in one easy motion!

    Its stainless steel blades glide through fruit, yielding perfect slices for applesauce, pies, cobblers and snacks!


    7" long x 6" wide.




Which one's it gonna be?

Please note that an apple is not included along with your new tool.

August 11, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack



What's that?

Long story short:

    alt.usage.english is a newsgroup where we discuss the English language.

    We discuss how particular words, phrases, and syntactic forms are used;
    how they originated; and where in the English-speaking world they're
    prevalent ("description").

    We also discuss how we think they should be used ("prescription").

    alt.usage.english is for everyone — not only for linguists, native
    speakers or descriptivists.


Note to the large number of bookofjoe readers whose native language is other than English, and who are interested in improving their skills: five minutes a day spent noodling around alt.usage.english would be an excellent investment of your time.

August 11, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tattoo Pen


From the website:

Tattoo Pen


Love the look of bold tattoos, but not into the pain or commitment?

Our FDA-approved Tattoo Pen, a temporary tattoo machine, has 6 interchangeable color gel pens and a vibrating pen holder (for the "authentic" effect of real tattoos).

You can easily trace from one of the 9 included stencils


or draw freehand


and let your talent shine!

Tattoo washes off with soap and water.


Requires one AA battery (included).

Commitment I can handle — it's the pain part that puts me off.

I must say that when I saw this photo,


for a second there I could have sworn I'd fallen through a wormhole into a Terminator maintenance facility.



August 11, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Goyogura Shoyu — The Soy Sauce of the Imperial Family of Japan


Until yesterday I had no idea such a thing existed.

Then I read Mariko Sanchanta's article in the Financial Times about Kikkoman, the world's largest soy-sauce maker.

Along with learning all about Goyogura Shoyu (top), I was informed of the fact that the company produces over 100 different soy sauce variants, each focused on a particular niche of the country.

A bit like France and its myriad cheeses — over 300, each sui generis.

Kikkoman's flagship soy sauce


is a mixture of soybeans, wheat and salt water allowed to ferment in steel vats for six months.

Goyogura Shoyu, on the other hand, is made from selected soybeans, then fermented for a year in wooden vats.

Now comes the good part.

"One need not be a member of the Japanese royal family to taste it — Goyogura is also available at select supermarkets in Japan for around ¥700 ($6) a bottle," wrote Sanchaka.

Now comes the even better part.

bookofoe readers — and anyone else you care to share your insider knowledge with — can have Goyogura Shoyu delivered right to their front door.

$8.99 (scroll down to the bottom of the page) for a 250 ml bottle.

The website selling it notes that "it is rarely seen in even the most prestigious stores in Japan."

August 11, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

College Logo Flashlight


Show your true colors — literally.


From the website:

College Flashlight

Mini keychain flashlight projects your college logo in color with the press of a button!

Also handy when unlocking doors, reading a map or menu in the dark, etc.

Use it on walls, table or any flat smooth surface.

The darker the room, the better it looks!

Select college from list below.




August 11, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Major money for someone — JumpAd™


Once again, bringing you an idea from out back in the bookofjoe skunk works, now ready for the light of day and your programming genius.

Long story short: you know how occasionally you kind of like the look of an ad that appears alongside whatever page you're on?

Not often, true, but every now and then.

Like the one up top.


Wouldn't it be cool — and potentially hugely lucrative — if even a TechnoDolt™ could simply pull it off the screen and then paste it into his blog, to use in a post or whatever as eye candy?

But here's the magic: when you clicked on it it would still function as the ad and take you to where it's meant to go by the advertiser.

Like I said — serious megamoney for the clever person/company who makes it happen.

Patent it.

I'm throwing in the name (JumpAd™) as well.

All yours, free of charge, like everything here.


"The way it always should be."

August 11, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MorphWorld: Umbra designer Michelle Ivankovic channels Mark Rothko


Above, her great over-the-door stretch towel rack in situ.

From a website:

Stretch Over-The-Door Towel Rack

An attractive solution for storing your bathroom towels.

The three 18" towel bars are accented with white fittings


and provide ample storage space for your towels.

The towel rack slides vertically on a pair of stretched bungee cords and fits doors up to 80" tall.

Equipped with flexible brackets, it fits most door sizes.


• Tubular construction with white plastic accents

• Three 18" towel bars

• Easy mounting — slides vertically on a pair of stretched bungee cords

• Flexible brackets fit doors up to 80" tall x 1-1/4" to 1-3/4"thick.



the master speaks.

The towel rack is $24.99.

The painting?

You must be joking.

August 11, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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