November 28, 2003

  • Gary Hoyle (1954–2003)

    Gary Hoyle died peacefully, but unexpectedly on Tuesday November 25th at the age of 49, while living and enjoying life in Costa Rica.

    Gary worked in the online industry since the early days. He was one of the very first AIMS members, probably one of the first twenty or so to set the stage for the association’s later growth. At the time he was head of sales at the Virtual Billboard Network, one of Canada’s first online ad networks. Since then Gary’s been involved in a number of online ventures on several continents.

    At the end of October Gary sent me this update on his life:

    “Me, well living in lovely downtown Escazu, a gringo suburb of San Jose in Costa Rica, paradise.

    Just finishing rainy season down here and looking forward to the beach in a few weeks — some sun, sand, and surfiing.

    Workwise I am running the marketing for a London based gaming company. The founders of our division are American, young guys started in a hotel room in 1997, two guys one computer two cell phones.

    They enticed me down here with the promise of riches, beautiful women, great weather, and great surfing. So far the weather is great, the women are incredibly beautiful, the surfing is real, waiting for the riches — but 3 out of 4 is not bad so far.”

    While I didn’t know Gary that well, I always enjoyed the times we met at industry events and he was most generous with feedback on my various projects and ideas. Gary will be sadly missed and our love and thoughts go to his family and close friends.

    Friends and family will be received on Saturday November 29th between 11 and 1 at Kane Funeral Home, 6150 Yonge Street followed by a memorial service in the Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated.

November 26, 2003

  • Thought

    Lovemarks is a very interesting concept by Saatchi & Saatchi. I expect to see this go viral shortly.

November 24, 2003

  • Thought

    The Michael Jackson Official Press Room web site is just about my favourite example of a specific purpose site ever. The site does exactly what it is supposed to do and nothing else. While I in no way condone Jackson’s alleged conduct, his ability to use the web as a communication channel during a personal and business crisis is commendable.

    Compare this site to the dreadfully overproduced corporate site Sony has created for Jackson.

    (via Dave Winer)

  • Thought

    Companies must understand that there is now officially nowhere to hide.

    If big business thought old school consumer activitists like Ralph Nader were a thorn in their side, wait till they see what wired consumers like the Neistat brothers will do to their brands. The brothers’ iPod’s Dirty Secret site does an absolutely brilliant job of airing their grievance about a defective iPod battery.

    It will be interesting to see how Apple responds and how long it takes for them to wake up to the impending PR disaster as this rapidly spreads across the net.

November 23, 2003

  • Anti-Spam Legislation May Make E-newsletters Impractical

    Dana Blankenhorn sees possible new anti-spam legislation in the US as regressive enough to shut down small e-mail publishers. He says “If the present anti-spam legislation becomes law, I will have to close my newsletter, A-Clue.Com, effective at the end of the year.”

    The point here is not that Dana is doing anything wrong with his list, or that he is even breaking the law. The is a business decision. Since it is easy to be accused under the proposed law and difficult to defend, it will become much more likely that e-mail newsletter owners will be taken to court. And since costs for defending these claims could be high, the value of the newsletter becomes negative and it make business sense to stop sending via e-mail.

    Another firm vote for RSS, but also a very sad day for the once effective communication tool called the permission e-mail list.

November 21, 2003

November 18, 2003

  • Thought

    Kevin Werbach has an article on TheFeature called The Triumph of Good Enough. The article is about how the Treo 600 smartphone has made enough small changes to its design and functionality that Kevin has reassessed his doubts about the future of converged mobile devices.

    The entire article is a good one for anyone who doubts that (as Kevin says) “Subtle improvements can have huge consequences.”

  • Cloudmark Saved My Inbox

    I haven’t commented on Cloudmark’s Spamnet plug-in for Outlook (and now Outlook Express) in a while.

    This product is just wonderful. If you are an Outlook user and you haven’t tried it yet, download Cloudmark’s Spamnet now.

    Here are my spam stats for the last few months while using Cloudmark:

    Total messages received — 59,359

    Total number of spam messages — 52,113

    Total spam caught by Cloudmark — 50452 (97% success rate)

    Total spam missed by Cloudmark — 1,661

    Total “real messages” — 5,585

    Total “false positives” of messages from individuals — ZERO

    Total “false positives” of messages from opt-in lists — 95 (<0.2%)

    “Good Message Ratio” with Cloudmark — 77% (i.e. over 3/4 of the messages in my inbox are real messages).

    Given that my “Good Message Ratio” without Cloudmark would be less than 10%, I can confidently say that Cloudmark has saved my inbox.

    Note that many opt-in lists get caught by Cloudmark. That is because the software works collaboratively, taking other people’s “block” messages and blocking similar messages from everyone’s inbox. But the software allows you to “double unblock” or whitelist messages so that they always get through Spamnet regardless of what other people think of the sender.

November 12, 2003

  • Thought

    Dave Winer seems to be developing the new Scripting News site in real-time. The page is getting slowly modified as Dave blogs his progress and people comment on how he’s doing. Not something I’d recommend to the faint of heart, but interesting to watch.

    Wonder when a nav bar will appear.

  • Thought

    Good article on nano-publishing by Om Malik with some added commentary by Glenn Fleishman. The Dawn of the MicroPubs

    I particularly liked Glenn’s comments on “Google Flow” — the fact that Google brings much of the traffic TO niche content sites (this site get’s 75% of its traffic from Google searches) and then reaps the rewards of that traffic through clickbacks on AdSense ads.

November 11, 2003

  • CMA “Web Site Best Practices” Seminar Next Week

    My “Web Site Best Practices” Seminar for the CMA is happening on Wednesday, November 19th, 2003. Here’s what the CMA says about it:

    “Whether your web site is state of the art or in a state of decay, this fast-paced seminar is guaranteed to send you back to the office with dozens of ideas to immediately improve your web site.

    Using real-world examples of the do’s and don’ts of building useful web sites, Internet veteran Ken Schäfer will guide you through over 100 ways to make any web site a more effective marketing, sales, customer service, and communications tool.

    Developed through ten years of online experience, Ken’s best practices library offers you a decade of bright ideas condensed into one action-packed day.”

    If you will be attending the seminar, don’t forget to send me a link to your home page if you’d like to have it reviewed by the class.

November 10, 2003

  • Thought

    Jakob Nielsen provides his “Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines” and includes compliance ratings from the site’s his company has audited. He notes that his US$10,000 home page audits generally get large corporations and governments as customers, which biases the data slightly, but it is unlikely that smaller companies are fairing much better.

  • Internet Littered With Dead Web Sites

    Yes, the Internet Is Littered With Dead Web Sites. In general it’s a good idea to keep all links on your site live so that bookmarks, external links, and search engine databases can find the content or be redirected to newer information. But what to do if the entire site is going to be adandoned?

    Or you could leave it up for archival purposes. This is probably the best solution as there is a long-term issue with information that may have historic information disappearing. In “olden times” we could refer to people’s letters, diaries, and books to see what people in the past thought. With ephemeral electronic records much of what we rely on to decode the past will be gone. Archiving your site is less of an issue if the Internet Archive has already cached a copy of your site. In that case they are effectively hosting the archive of the site for you.

    If maintaining the site as an archive is not an option, you may consider pointing all pages on the deceased site to one page that explains what happened and offers the reader suggestions on where to go for current information. If you have a site you can’t afford to host anymore, you could still maintain the domain for a few dollars a year and point the entire domain to a free/cheap page hosted elsewhere that explains the fate of the site.

    If a site it to remain live after it is outdated, it is important to identify the new purpose of the site (historic archive) and to ensure that people know that your information may no longer be relevant. A “last updated” reference is particularly useful in this case.

    (Thanks to Gerard Dolan for the link)

November 8, 2003

  • Kudos: United Way Toronto

    Kudos to the United Way of Greater Toronto.

    Originally the non-profit organization used the very short as their official web address. That address was used on all advertising online and offline. This year’s campaign uses

    While “uwgt” is 12 characters shorter than the new address, the longer address is in fact much easier to remember.

    UWGT stands for United Way Greater Toronto, but how many of us would know or remember that? In this case, the longer URL means more typing, but a better chance of being remembered. And people tend to default to “.com”, so replacing the “.org” was also smart. Well done.

    Wisely, the webmaster has retained the old URL and pointed it to the new site.

    Unfortunately they forgot to redirect to, so visitors omitting the “dub-dub-dub” will be left thinking the site is down.

November 6, 2003

  • Thought

    MarketingWonk: Microsoft Back RSS; Move Away From Email Publishing Assured:

    “RSS is going to go mainstream if Microsoft is behind it. Whether it gathers momentum or not with the masses before then (Longhorn is due out in the 2005/2006 timeframe) remains to be seen, but everyone in the email space should be planning towards a future when RSS rules, IMHO.”