Archive for December, 2010

Summary of 2010 Blog Posts on CrashUtah

Friday, December 31st, 2010

I found this really interesting WordPress plugin that summarizes the activity on your blog for the past year. Pretty cool. It’s not the perfect format with this theme, but you can still see the data. You can see I picked up my blogging regularity towards the end of the year. I expect this will continue in 2011.

In 2010 I wrote 36 posts and added 1 pages to this blog, with 3 attachments in total.

The number of posts in each month:

August:

  9 (25%)

September:

  6 (16.67%)

October:

  12 (33.33%)

November:

  10 (27.78%)

December:

  17 (47.22%)

The number of posts in each day of week:

Sunday:

  2 (5.56%)

Monday:

  8 (22.22%)

Tuesday:

  9 (25%)

Wednesday:

  7 (19.44%)

Thursday:

  11 (30.56%)

Friday:

  12 (33.33%)

Saturday:

  5 (13.89%)

At what hours I publish new posts:

0:

  1 (2.78%)

4:

  1 (2.78%)

6:

  4 (11.11%)

7:

  3 (8.33%)

8:

  6 (16.67%)

9:

  6 (16.67%)

10:

  3 (8.33%)

11:

  4 (11.11%)

12:

  3 (8.33%)

13:

  3 (8.33%)

14:

  2 (5.56%)

15:

  5 (13.89%)

16:

  2 (5.56%)

18:

  1 (2.78%)

19:

  1 (2.78%)

20:

  2 (5.56%)

21:

  2 (5.56%)

22:

  2 (5.56%)

23:

  3 (8.33%)

In 2010 the posts were commented 25 times, from which 6 comments (24 percent) were written by registered users/authors.

TOP 10 commenters in 2010:

  • John Lynn's Thoughts » Blog Archive » The Start of Something Great: 1 comments
  • tas: 1 comments
  • The Value of Local Events | JohnThoughts: 1 comments
  • Happy Labor Day | EMR and HIPAA: 1 comments
  • Smuggle Me » Shutting Down Smuggle Me…Mostly: 1 comments
  • Jeannie Pitt: 1 comments
  • Laura Giaimo: 1 comments
  • mason: 1 comments
  • Monetizing My Blogs | JohnThoughts: 1 comments
  • Heather in BC… & Beyond! » Hello Orlando!: 1 comments

TOP 10 most commented posts in 2010:

The number of comments in each month:

August:

  3 (12%)

September:

  9 (36%)

October:

  3 (12%)

November:

  6 (24%)

December:

  4 (16%)

On what days people comment:

Sunday:

  3 (12%)

Monday:

  1 (4%)

Tuesday:

  2 (8%)

Wednesday:

  10 (40%)

Thursday:

  4 (16%)

Friday:

  5 (20%)

At what hours people comment:

3:

  1 (4%)

6:

  3 (12%)

7:

  1 (4%)

8:

  1 (4%)

9:

  5 (20%)

10:

  1 (4%)

12:

  1 (4%)

13:

  2 (8%)

14:

  2 (8%)

15:

  2 (8%)

16:

  1 (4%)

17:

  1 (4%)

20:

  1 (4%)

21:

  2 (8%)

22:

  1 (4%)

Summary generated by 2010 Summary plugin by Tomasz Topa

The Value of Living Modestly

Monday, December 27th, 2010

I’m really glad that somehow I learned very early on in my life to live modestly. I think it’s a principle that has eternal value and many people underestimate its power. I honestly wouldn’t be able to be living the dream and being an entrepreneur in Las Vegas if it weren’t for this principle.

However, I think one of the best features of modesty is the perspective it gives you. When you live a modest lifestyle, then your “splurges” still only amount to what people think are normal. However, from your perspective they’re absolutely fantastic and appreciated. For example, Christmas can be 10 times sweeter at half the cost just by living modestly the rest of the year.

Some of these same principles apply to business. In business it is called boot strapping it or a lean startup or getting by with what’s needed. I’m sure that some times I take them too far. However, I think that generally these principles are great business. At least when you’re building web applications.

There’s something incredibly valuable to a web application to be given constraints on what you can and can’t do. These constraints force you to narrowly focus on what’s most important. It means you have to be completely focused on a specific goal and nail it. There’s not room for fluff and extras which don’t add value.

Living modestly in a startup means you have a longer run way to test out ideas and improve those ideas based on customer feedback. Obviously, once you start seeing traction and you’ve been able to refine your customer acquisition model, then you can apply the gas. However, until then keeping your burn rate low (living modestly) means that you’ll still have enough gas to get to the next gas station.

Although, don’t underestimate the long term value of a company whose DNA is living modestly either.

Wise Entrepreneurship Counsel

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

“If you know what your customers need, deliver against that promise and provide a product or services that has economic value you’ll do well. Double-down on great people, process & IP.”

-Mark Suster in his blog post “In a Strong Wind Even Turkeys Can Fly

The Irony of Holiday Vacation Time

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The other day my wife asked me how much time off I’d get for Christmas. I thought it was a really interesting question since I now just work for myself as a blogger in the evening and my sports fundraiser and boy scout fundraiser during the day.

As I think about a holiday vacation like Christmas, I think that most people split that time between family and some hobby. How many people have projects they’re working on that they’ve saved for their Christmas break from work? I know a lot of people who do this.

The question is, what do you do when your hobby is your job?

Makes for an interesting experience. Needless to say, I’ll be enjoying plenty of time with family for Christmas, but I’ll also be spending plenty of time working with my websites. Call it work if you want. I just call it enjoying my time off.

“If I Could Pay to Have That Feeling I Would”

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Ever since I read this post about open source motivations I’ve had a lot to think about. The post and some of the related posts were fascinating. However, I’ve been completely struck by a comment that Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) put in the comments:

When I receive earnest or polite emails, I either forward them on or answer them myself. Most of these people are quite lost and probably don’t even realize my role in WordPress when emailing me. But the gratitude expressed and knowing I made the world just a little bit better for a little tiny moment is worth more than a few dollars worth of donations. In fact if I could pay to have that feeling I would.

The last line is completely fascinating. It resonates in a fantastic way. A few days ago, I tried to describe this feeling to someone who knows very little about computers and particularly open source. I used it in the context of helping a friend fix their computer problem. The blank stares on their face told me they didn’t quite get how I reached this point of discovery. Just says to me that these people I was talking to hadn’t tasted the joy of helping someone fix a problem that they couldn’t fix themselves. Often a problem which is incredibly simple for me, but heart breaking to the person having the problem.

I totally agree with Matt when he says…

“If I Could Pay to Have That Feeling I Would”

Chew on that for a little while.

I’m Such a Minimalist

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

As I think about my use of various technologies I realize that I’m really a minimalist. I’m all about finding the easiest way to do something. For example, when I first started with Firefox plugins, I was installing things left and right. Quickly I realized that I didn’t want to have all those plugins installed. Plus, when it was time to upgrade Firefox, I was always afraid to upgrade since I wasn’t sure what impact that would have on all the plugins I’d installed. I quickly removed a whole bunch of plugins which sounded like a good idea and just left the ones that I used regularly.

When I started WordPress, it was a similar story. There were a ton of plugins to do all sorts of cool things with WordPress. I added one after another and loved a lot of the extra features. Then, it was time to update WordPress. Unfortunately, in the open source world not all the plugins get updated for the new version of WordPress like they should. So, this would mean that I would have to go through and test to make sure that when I upgraded WordPress, that my plugins would all still be working.

Yep, you can imagine that I quickly started removing the WordPress plugins that weren’t really adding any value to my life. Not to mention I moved to a number of more mainstream plugins which I was certain would be upgraded as WordPress released new software (ie. plugins from WordPress in many cases or plugins with enormous install bases). However, I still wanted as few plugins as possible. It was all about value.

This really goes on and on in my life. For example, as much as I love automation, I’d rather have a car that didn’t have all the bells and whistles. The more features it has, the more places it could break. When something breaks it takes me away from doing what I really want to be doing. Some people like fixing broken things (and there is some satisfaction doing so), but I prefer to create things.

This is why in so many aspects of my life I look at ways to minimize and simplify how I do things. Take a look at my blogs and you’ll see that their designs follow the same sort of pattern. It’s all about minimizing and simplifying.

Small Google Adsense Tweaks

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

I’m a pretty big fan of Google Adsense. I know a lot of people hate it. Certainly there are things I hate about it too, but generally it’s been good to me. It brought me income when no one else would advertise. It still cuts me a nice check (electronic deposit) every month and so I’m thankful for that.

I think the thing I like most about Google Adsense as compared with directly selling ads myself is that the pressure is off me. I don’t have to have any relationship with the advertiser. I don’t have to worry about delivering quality results. Google mostly takes care of that. See my previous post about the pressure of making money blogging.

Certainly there’s still some pressure associated with Google Ads. You want to make sure that the ads are still monetizing well. You have to make sure you are still generating quality pageviews cause if that drops, your Google Adsense income will drop too. Of course, there’s also a bit of worry that the advertisers using Google Adwords will stop paying for ads that go on your site. Or to put it more bluntly…ads that were paying $5 eCPM will starting paying $0.50 eCPM. From my experience using Google Ads (about 8-9 years I think) the eCPM has almost always gone up and not down. Although for the most part it’s been stable for the niches I do. Other niches might be different.

Obviously, I have a lot to say about Google Ads. I guess that happens when you’ve been doing it as long as I have.

Today I spent a bit of time looking over my implementation and I found a couple really good ways to optimize the ads that I already had on my site. I’ve been doing this a little bit here and there for the past couple weeks. I think it started with the suggestion that I start using the standard/suggested ad size formats since supposedly there’s more ad inventory for those sizes. Makes sense that if there are more people with ads (higher demand) that the price would be higher for those clicks.

I made a really simple tweak to one of the ads from the previous standard banner ad size 468×60 (who came up with this size anyway?) and changed it to the 728×90 ad. So, actually it was a bigger ad as well as a switch to one of the IAB (or whatever the abbreviation is) standard size ads.

It’s still early to know the full results, but the reports are already looking promising. So much so that I rolled it out to 5 other sites that have a similar format.

Of course, the real motivation for me to write this is that it’s another reason that I love Google Adsense. I can spend an hour or two optimizing my ads and then I’ll continue to benefit from those small tweaks to the optimization for a long time to come.

In fact, it has the potential to do the opposite of what I mentioned above. It could take me from making $5 eCPM to $10 eCPM with only a couple hours effort. A lot of people don’t see websites as assets, but I do. Little tweaks like this are a great way to leverage the asset.

Free Screen Sharing Application for Bootstrapped Internet Startups – Join.me

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Today I finally came across a great screen sharing application. I’ve used A LOT of different screen sharing applications, desktop streaming applications, remote desktop applications, etc etc etc and they have their niche, but this one is by far the easiest desktop streaming application that I’ve found (and it’s free).

The application is called Join.me. It’s done by the people behind the LogMeIn suite of products (which are good in their own right for more advanced users). However, Join.me is fantastic for those desktop streams that you want to do with people whose desktop you don’t control. There’s almost NOTHING to install. It uses Flash for the user viewing your desktop and a really simple exe download for the person looking to share.

I plan on using this for demos I’m doing for Giving Sports fundraising. It’s the perfect way to do a sales presentation. You send them a link, they click on it and they get access to your desktop computer. That means you can show them a powerpoint, a web browser, etc etc etc. Anything you run on your desktop you can show them and they don’t have to install anything. They can just click on the link.

I’m also planning on using this for helping my mom. Just yesterday I wished that I had a way to connect to my mom’s computer. It was too much to ask her to create an account and install LogMeIn. Plus, then she’d keep getting these update notices to update the software and it would confuse her. With Join.me she just does the one click download of the exe and then tells me the number. Awesome! Plus, after one use, you just tell her to install the app and it will put a shortcut on her desktop that she can use the next time she needs help.

Oh yes, did I say that it allows remote control of the desktop as well? That’s right, my mom can give me control of her desktop so I can just fix the stuff myself. So, I can not only see her desktop, but I can also fix it. Very nice!

There’s also a conference call number you can provide to people so a whole group could be on the same call. It’s not an 800 number, but that’s not a big deal for me at all. Most people have a cell phone or unlimited long distance.

The only problem I ran into is that it didn’t like my default screen resolution. I submitted a report to Join.me about it and so we’ll see if they respond. I just changed my screen resolution and it worked fine.

Anyway, as you can tell I’m excited. I’d wanted something like this for a while. It’s the perfect addition to a bootstrapped internet startup’s tool box!

Disqus New Analytics Features and the Future of Connected Communities Needs Fast Profile Switching

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

I’m still pondering this post done by Fred Wilson (a VC I read) about some new Disqus features. The post includes an interesting feature which shows you the sites that users of your site also visit. I must admit that it’s a really interesting feature and as a data loving blogger, I think that’s really interesting.

The challenge I have comes in the next part where Fred talks about his view forward with this type of technology. Basically, it’s the idea of connecting communities where the audience is similar. He uses the simple example of a hot topic on Suster’s blog (another VC I read) being promoted on Fred’s blog. Sure, this sounds great, and I imagine many would opt in to a feature like this. I would like to know about other good VC and internet startup related posts on other blogs.

The problem is when this feature goes bad and creates a poor user experience. What if Techcrunch adds it to the site and its readers are also commenting over on some porn site? Ok, maybe that’s a good experience for many of your readers since they’re visiting that site anyway. However, that could definitely turn off the other portion of your readers who don’t like that site that really isn’t related to the topic at hand. Plus, as a blogger, I don’t want to know that all my readers are visiting that type of site and I certainly wouldn’t want to promote it.

You could look at a simpler example. What if ESPN news started showing up on your tech blog just because a lot of tech people have been visiting ESPN? That’s not terrible, but it’s not the best user experience and I bet many bloggers wouldn’t like it.

The point here is that we all have different online profiles. Here’s a simple sample of my online profiles that I might want to use across the internet:
-Internet Startup Profile
-Electronic Medical Record Profile
-TV Blog Profile
-Sports Fundraising Profile
-Organization Fundraising Profile
-Personal and Family Profile
-BYU Sports Profile
-Other Sports Profile
-My Technology profile

I could keep going. The point is that just because we’re commenting on a website doesn’t mean that Disqus knows which profile I’m using to comment on that site. Of course, this is why I’ve argued that Disqus needs to create a fast profile switching feature. I never log in to Disqus when I comment, because I’d just have to log out the next time I comment and log back in as a different profile. It’s just easier for me to stay logged out and write in all the data myself (which is a pain).

Fast profile switching by Disqus would help me maintain my various internet profiles and then the data that they provide to sites wouldn’t be tainted with my other profiles. Even Google’s come around on the fact of supporting multiple profiles. Disqus and other online sites (I’m looking at you WordPress.com) should too!

Various Website Hosting Options

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

On an IT forum that I participate on, someone asked what type of hosting was best. The following is my response about the various hosting options.

Obviously, the response is that it depends on the project you’re doing. The key question to ask is how much control do you need over the server? Although, even now the managed hosts are providing pretty robust customization these days. Of course, there’s also the discussion of shared host versus the various flavors of VPS hosting out there.

I use a shared host for all but 2 of my websites. I’ve done 50k+ pageviews in a day on a shared host plan (optimized WordPress site) and that was only one of the 5-10 domains I had on that plan. I use Bluehost’s shared hosting and it still amazes me how many domains and how much traffic I can do for only $7/month. The real limitation with the shared host is CPU. Everything else is a non-issue from my experience. However, the CPU usage of your database could be an issue depending on your website. The good thing about Bluehost is their software that throttles CPU usage. Some might hate this idea, but on a shared host with 20 other domains, it’s a great feature since then other crappily implemented websites don’t kill yours. Now if your website is the one that eats everyone else’s CPU, you might not like this feature.

For one project, I needed more CPU and more flexibility with things like configuring my SSL certificate (another issue with shared hosting). So, I got a VPS package from: http://www.wiredtree.com/ It has all the CPanel functionality that I’m use to having, but it also gives me access to all the CPanel management functions that usually only the shared host people have access to. It’s been a great experience. Although at $50 a month is quite a bit more than the shared hosting plan.

If you want the beauty of not having to host your server, but ALL the flexibility of having your own server, I know a lot of people that love: http://www.slicehost.com/ From what I hear it’s basically your own virtual server that you can do whatever you want on. People who like to do their own Apache Installs, etc love this type of hosting.

I’m all about simplifying the server admin experience. I’ve done all the server install stuff and it’s a fun experience and cool to make stuff work. However, at the end of the day with all the above options I’m not sure I’ll buy another server again. So, I guess I’m an all web application kind of guy.