What’s in a name?

Ever wonder if your personality or your appearance corresponded to your name? I mean, when we’re born, do our parents actually get to think hard how our names would affect us as we grow up? If you’re given a tough guy name, would you actually end up looking the part? If you’re given a nondescript, generic name, would you just blend in the crowd? If you’re named after famous folk, would you live up to your namesake’s reputation?

I know a few folks who really look their names. I recall a classmate, David, who looks kingly and regal (and sometimes is just as high-strung). A friend, Sophia looks wise and intelligent. Sometimes I wonder, does your name end up as making a self-fulfilled prophecy of you? Do you live up to that name? Or is it merely coincidence, for I also know of a handful of people who don’t exactly look or act like their names?

Or am I typecasting too much?

How about names of places? Or titles of books? Or titles of blogs and blog posts? Gurus tell you to always come up with a good headline. But what if the content does not live up to the reader’s expectations?

More about names–when you read an article or a blog post, what do you look at first? The title? Or is it the byline (or in the case of a blog post, the author)? Many times I find myself looking at the byline first. It’s probably the same as when you’re buying a book. The author matters. The name matters. The book’s title would sometimes be secondary to the authority or the prestige attached to the author’s name. Does the authorship matter more than the content?

Sometimes, it is.

And what about blogs? Does a blog’s author matter, or are you content with sapping up content, as long as it’s good? What if a blog changes its author or owner? Is it just a change of name, or will it be like a brain transplant, with the blog taking on a new personallity altogether? I think it’s more of the latter. It’s more than just the name attached. It’s the whole persona attached to the name.

And so, dear readers, in case you haven’t noticed, its’ me again. After a brief hiatus (of about two years or so), I’ve come back to haunt this blog once more. What does my byline say? I guess my writing style don’t exactly scream out like my name suggests. At least, not now.

TechCrunch Gets $240k a Month. Show Me the Money!

Sometimes life isn’t fair. There are the real winners, and there are the rest of us who are the real whiners. Or maybe that’s just in terms of money. But when you read about TechCrunch earning $240,000 per month, you’d be bound to have a double take. Hey, that’s more than what most of us earn in a year.

Today, TechCrunch has a full-time staff of eight. This year, it hired a CEO. In August, 1.25 million people visited TechCrunch or its affiliated blogs at least once, according to comScore Inc. It brings in $240,000 per month in advertising, according to Arrington, and pulls in additional revenue from conferences and parties. Most important of all, TechCrunch is in the black.

“When I started the blog, it was just a hobby,” Arrington said. But, after a while, “It was pretty clear that I could make more money blogging than from anything else.”

If I’d founded TechCrunch I’d be laughing myself to the bank right now. Wait, isn’t that what Arrington does? Probably.

I should stress that this is the exception rather than the rule. There are a very few excellent blogs out there that make really big bucks. Then there are those so-so blogs that still make even bigger bucks. A modest number of us in the blogging business make a decent living, but aren’t exactly swimming in cash. Then most bloggers out there can only dream of making a measly buck out of their blogs.

Yes, some blogs are profitable. Stress on some.

An Interesting Post on an Interesting Post

Over at some of the blogs we run, we get a lot of pingbacks that say

XXXXXX wrote an interesting post today on YYYYYY. Here’s a quick excerpt …

where

  • XXXXXX = a random (or sometimes not so) name or email address, and
  • YYYYYY = An excerpt of the original blog post title.

Sure, link to us, post about our interesting posts (today!) and all. But to get tons of trackbacks from our sites (linking to yours), which are obviously MFA blogs (for Made-For-AdSense or Made-For-Insert favorite ad scheme here), is blatant disrespect for the authors of original content.

I advise anyone reading this to add the phrase “wrote an interesting post today on” to your comment moderation list or even blacklist.

Curse those automatic content-scraping scripts!

Hold On to Your Utterz!

Here’s yet another microblogging service (if it can be called that, at all). The name is Utterz, and it supposedly mashes up voice, photos, videos, and texts so you can just send in stuff from your mobile phone and it comes out automatically on your Utterz page.

Utterz is the first way you can instantly blog your experiences, thoughts and ideas, anywhere, using all the capabilities of your mobile phone. Utterz mashes together the voice, video, pictures, and text you call or send in and creates an ‘Utter’ that can immediately update your existing web pages on sites like Blogger, Facebook, LiveJournal, MySpace and more.

Utterz supposedly came from utter (which means to speak or say something), but I think it sounds more like udders. I think these guys lived up to their namesake, though. Check out their logo.

moo.png

Now isn’t that utterly creative?

When Your Company’s Name Means “Haven’t Had Secks Yet”

You just gotta love Virgin. If not for the sodas, or the mobile service, then maybe even just the name itself sparks interest. Imagine the double entredes and really witty copy their advertising agents can come up with. Take this for example.

virgin-ads.png

Here’s the image source, and there seems to be an interesting discussion over at the comment threads. A bit dated, but still interesting.

Now what could “free … virgin to virgin” mean?

Seems like Virgin is in hot water for stealing photos from Flickr. Here’s he original photo (from here).

virgin-photo-orig.png

Horror of horrors! They flipped the image.

Virgin Mobile is facing a lawsuit for using an image from Flickr of a Dallas teenager without any consent, in its marketing campaign “Are You With Us Or What?”

According to The Dallas Morning News, the photo of Alison Chang flashing a peace sign had appeared in a printed ad with the caption “Dump your pen friend” and was seen in Adelaide, Australia. The Herald Sun also cited that another caption “Free virgin to virgin” was placed in a different ad. -901am

The kid says she felt insulted.

The complaint says the ad caused Alison “to experience and suffer humiliation, severe embarrassment, frustration, grief and general mental anguish damages, all of which, in reasonable probability, will subsist in the future. -Dallas News

If Virgin stole a photo of me and slapped a “virgin” label somewhere I would most definitely feel insulted. Virgin? Most definitely not.

Seriously, Virgin’s PR people need a lesson in intellectual property rights and child welfare rights.

Why I Still Login to a Ton of WordPress Admin Panels

A post on John Chow’s blog led me to an interesting WordPress plugin with lots of potential, especially for network bloggers and administrators. The Manage Multiple Blogs plugin is supposed to let users manage multiple (external) blogs from a single WP control panel.

Yes now you don’t need to logon to multiple blogs if you want to write a post, edit a post, manage categories and yes manage your comments including approving, disapproving, spamming it, replying to it, threaded reply and more.

I’ve tried several add-ons and software that were supposed to help me become more productive by doing just this. But I still return to my old ways. Somehow I still prefer to login manually onto each WP admin panel and do my stuff from within there. Okay, it’s not fully manual since my browser saves my password for each blog.

Force of habit? Not really.

Thing is, with a ton of tabs open on Firefox, I’m prone to drafting blog posts on the wrong tab and hence, the wrong blog. Several times I’ve almost accidentally hit the Publish button. How worse could this stupid carelessness of mine be when all my blogs are in one basket? That would be very confusing and potentially embarrassing, too.

Still, as I said, this plugin shows a lot of potential. Now I wonder why the folks over at Automattic didn’t think of that in the first place. Over at the hosted WordPress.com site you could control all the blogs your account has access to from a single dashboard. Now why can’t you do that on a full, self-hosted version?

Do You Really Think I’m Stupid Enough to Fall for That?

Seen over the comment threads on some blogs lately:

hello , my name is Richard and I know you get a lot of spammy comments ,
I can help you with this problem . I know a lot of spammers and I will ask them not to post on your site. It will reduce the volume of spam by 30-50% .In return Id like to ask you to put a link to my site on the index page of your site. The link will be small and your visitors will hardly notice it , its just done for higher rankings in search engines. Contact me icq 454528835 or write me tedirectory(at)yahoo.com , i will give you my site url and you will give me yours if you are interested. thank you (posted verbatim)

Classic social engineering attempt. Straight out of the Social Engineering for Dummies handbook (if there was ever one).

Do you really think people would fall for this one?

Okay, maybe a couple of dummies or so will contact you and link to your site in the hopes of lessening the spam comments they get.

The moment you write these people, they’ll have your email address and include it in their ever-growing list of harvested emails. They’ll sell these for a few bucks to other spammers or to shady companies that use not-so-nice marketing techniques (like spam).

Quite a crafty and creative way of doing things, if I might say so. Spammers are getting creative these days. But I’m not falling for it.

And There You Have It: DMOZ is Bad.

I used to think DMOZ is the holy grail of web directories. Turns out I’m wrong. Being controlled by human beings, DMOZ is also prone to–and is in all likelihood riddled with–corruption, just like the rest of the intarwebs. Jeremy Shoemaker writes about his experience with a DMOZ editor attempting to extort five grand out of him or else shoemoney.com would be removed from the listings.

A while back I got a email from a guy claiming to be a DMOZ editor saying that I had to pay him $5,000.00 or he would have my site: shoemoney.com removed from the dmoz.

I thought nothing of it…. then today I got a email from him saying it was removed and I might want to rethink not paying him. I thought I would check just for grins.

It was removed… WOW

Google seriously its time for you to aquire a business directory that has paid inclusion. There is so much porn and spam in the dmoz its a huge black eye for you. Business.com just got scooped up but there is another one that might be able to get got for a nice price *cough* best of the web *cough*

DUMP DMOZ

What was that again about Google saying paid links were bad?

Don’t You Just Hate Sponsored Posts? What About Sponsored Blogs?

I do. And that’s because they make the world look cluttered. Imagine my disgust when, checking out a few favorite personal blogs, I realized all their latest posts were about rhinoplasty, botox, hair transplant, real estate agents in San Diego, liposuction and whatnot. And I hear these people only pay a couple of bucks per post–with the sponsored links of course. Sure, some people put in their paid links in the context of relevant posts. But others do it just plain wrong–the whole post is about the sponsored topic.

Heck, sometimes it feels that their blogs have turned entirely into sponsored blogs.

I don’t want my feed reader to get cluttered with posts about all that junk, so I usually just unsubscribe the first sign of having sponsored posts right on the blog post title. And I don’t have the patience of weeding through pages and pages of sponsored articles until I get to some relevant (i.e., non-sponsored) content. I’m okay with those links appearing discreetly within relevant posts. At least I get to read content with sense.

In my opinion, the purpose of sponsored links, anyway, is for link-building, so as long as the link URL and anchor text are there, the sponsors are happy. I don’t think anybody is still gullible enough these days to mistake those sponsored write-ups for honest to goodness blog posts by the author. We should be way past that.

A sign that a blog is going downhill is if it continually spews out sponsored post after sponsored post, again usually with the sponsored listing eating up the whole post.

Bloggers, consider the tradeoff when writing these posts! Is your credibility worth the couple of bucks per post that they pay you? I don’t think so.

ClickComments Sucks!

I didn’t realize it could be this bad. Suddenly, bloggers are asking their readers to be lazy. No more comments, you say. Just click those cutesy icons at the bottom of my post to say how you feel.

But none of ‘em buttons represent what I feel. All those clickety clicky ClickComments icons have are kiss-ass comments:

clickcomments.png

  • Cool stuff
  • Entertaining
  • Inspired me
  • Write more
  • Creative
  • Insightful
  • Touched my heart
  • Great find

If I had my way, ClickComments should have:

  • STFU and GBTW (look it up)
  • This post sucks!
  • You suck!
  • You call yourself a writer? This is lame.
  • My grandmother writes better than you. And she’s dead!

Okay, enough of this. I just find it real stupid why a supposedly instant feedback mechanism would only give you a choice of positive feedback messages.

Clickcomments eliminates these barriers and provides readers a simple and expressive ways to respond to your posts. Sometimes someone else has already written what a reader wanted to write and didn’t want to write a “yeah, what she said” comment.

What she said, huh? You’re breeding a generation of lazy buggers who think with their mouse buttons.