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August 2004, Week 3 Marketing Archives

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Donate To My Mountain Dew Amp Energy Drink Fund

As all of you know, I'm no good without my energy drinks. So I've set up this little fund to raise money for my addiction. All donations will go to the further good of web application users everywhere and be held highly confidential.

Oh yeah, check out Drop Cash, it's a hoot and a holler.

Donate To My Mountain Dew Amp Energy Drink Fund By Jason Dowdell at 01:39 PM
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Convert Google Images to Text Images with Toogle

Toogle the latest in the line of cottage industry websites using Google as their source and tweaking the results it returns to make it more interesting. This site takes a search on Google images and renders the images it returns using text.

Here's what the search for apples returned.
Toogle search results for keyword apples rendered in text format

Here's the info taken from their 'about us' page.

Toogle is a Text version of Googles Image Search. Currently it creates images out of the very term that was used to fetch those images, later we will endeavour to create images out of the search terms entered by users past and present. But for now please, go play.

This website is not necessarily recommended for children, minors, or other people of a sensitive nature, since it will most likely present content that might be upsetting. Still it was never my intention to pussy-foot around, and I don't intend on making the site any safer, the net is a big bad dangerous super-highway and if you get upset by images made from text then you might as well give up now.

Obviously this site borrows heavily from Googles own layout and design, but I hope that they do not feel that this is competition and take it in the lighthearted way it was intended. If you wish to contact us at Toogle, please email

One more note: the site is dog slow, I mean barely rendering pages within 30 seconds so be patient. It's fun to mess around with and should be worth lots of laughs for all involved.

This site is by way of

Convert Google Images to Text Images with Toogle By Jason Dowdell at 12:28 PM
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RSS Feeds, All The Rage, Even Magazines!

I'm a firm believer that people subscribe to resources on areas they're interested in and that's one of the reasons smaller directories and search engines focused on specific industries work so well. Add to the mix rss aggregators and you have a formula for success. People only subscribe to that which they want information on and bam, conversion rates increase.

The latest addition to rss syndication of industry specific information is MagPortal. It gives you full rss feeds of articles arranged by directories so you only subscribe to the ones you are interested in.

RSS Feeds, All The Rage, Even Magazines! By Jason Dowdell at 11:18 AM
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New HTTP Proxy Search Engine Available - Open Source

Note: If you're looking for a paid proxy service that is inexpensive and reliable then I fully recommend not wasting your time with free proxies but rather using Your Private Proxy as I have an account with them myself and their service is unparalleled.

Today I came across the latest in the line of open source search engines. It's called AnomicHTTPProxy and it's actually an http proxy with an search engine capabilities. Here are some of it's features as taken from their product description. With optional pre-fetching. HTTP 1.1 with GET/HEAD/POST/CONNECT is supported. This is sufficient for nearly all public web pages. HTTP headers are transparently forwarded. HTTPS connections through target port 443 are transparently forwarded, non-443 connections are suppressed to enhance security. Both (HTTP and HTTPS) proxies share the same proxy port, which is by default port 8080. The proxy 'scrapes' the content that it passes and creates an index that can be shared between every AnomicHTTPProxy daemons. You can use the indexing feature for intranet indexing: you instantly have a search service at hand to index all intranet-served web pages. You don't need to set up a separated search service. And the used PLASMA indexing is not a naive quick-hack but an properly engineered and extremely fast algorithm; it is capable of indexing a nearly unlimited number of pages, without slowing down the search process. One of the interesting features is it's p2p capabilities which reminds me of grub. The proxy contains an index-sharing p2p-based algorithm which creates a global distributed search engine. This spawns a world-wide global search index. The current release is a minimum implementation of this concept and shall prove it's functionality.

New HTTP Proxy Search Engine Available - Open Source By Jason Dowdell at 10:56 AM
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Stop, GoogleTime!

Looks like the auction period is coming to a close and here's the skinny on the numbers for Google. Looks like Google will begin trading tomorrow morning since they're trying to make the latest ammendment to their prospectus effective today at 4pm which is when the markets close.

"Please be advised that the prospectus for the offering of Google's Class
A common stock will be amended to change the estimated offering price
range and the number of shares to be sold in the offering. The offering
price is now expected to be between $85 and $95 per share. Google
expects to sell 14,142,135 shares of Class A common stock in the
offering as originally filed. The selling shareholders are reducing the
shares they expect to sell to approximately 5.5 million shares in view
of this new price range. This is a reduction of approximately 6.1
million shares. In addition, the selling shareholders have granted the
underwriters the right to purchase approximately 2.9 million additional
shares of Class A common stock at the initial public offering price to
cover over-allotments.

Google and the underwriters requested that the Securities and Exchange
Commission declare the registration statement effective on Wednesday,
August 18, 2004 at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). We will send you
a notice of effectiveness once the registration statement has been
declared effective. Google and the underwriters expect to close the
auction when the registration statement is declared effective."

Stop, GoogleTime! By Jason Dowdell at 09:53 AM
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Hurricane Charley Boosts Traffic to Weather Sites

Apparently, lots of folks across the country were interested in Hurricane Charley's wherabouts and path of destruction. Although I had considered posting about the hurricane from a first person perspective, since I was in it's path in Florida, I opted to keep my family safe rather than blog Charley. I know I made the right choice but below is a portion of the full story.

According to Hitwise traffic data, the top 10 most popular Web sites for the week ending August 14 were (in order),,, Yahoo! Weather, Weather Underground, National Weather-Southern, National Weather-Central, WeatherBug, NOAA National, National Weather-Internet Weather, and the National Hurricane Center.

However, only one member of the top 10, the National Hurricane Center, was among the weather sites to have witnessed an increased in share of U.S. visits from August 7th to August 14th. Hurricane advisories received the biggest traffic increase--1,005 percent--followed by The Hurricane Center, at 287 percent, the National Hurricane Center, 231 percent, Hurricane and Storm Tracking, 170 percent, and The Hurricane Weather Center, 158 percent.

I remember a Don Henley song about the news media back in the 80's named "Dirty Laundry". Everyone wants to witness a tragedy but we especially witnessing it in the second person through our favorite tv personalities so we don't feel quite as bad about the event.

I make my living off the Evening News
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em all around

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
comes on at five
She can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam
in her eye
It's interesting when people die-
Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know, the boys in the newsroom got a
running bet
Get the widow on the set!
We need dirty laundry

You don't really need to find out what's going on
You don't really want to know just how far it's gone
Just leave well enough love
Eat your dirty laundry

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're stiff
Kick 'em all around

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do "The Innuendo"
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done we haven't told you a thing
We all know that Crap is King
Give us dirty laundry!

Hurricane Charley Boosts Traffic to Weather Sites By Jason Dowdell at 09:32 AM
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Monday, August 16, 2004

Blogger Replaces AdWords with The Navbar - Cool!

Evan broke the news about the latest feature Blogger added to blogs hosted on This new navbar replaces the Google AdWords that displayed above the blog layout.

Blogger Replaces AdWords with The Navbar - Cool! By Jason Dowdell at 10:45 PM
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Big Fish Migrating North

It's nearing the end of summer and just before the new tv programming season gets underway the large companies are switching ad agencies. Could this be related to the Wired article about the "18 - 34 male demo (the lost boys)" or is it just time to switch again? Who's to say? The only one that stuck out to me was Blockbuster choosing Avenue A/Razorfish.

Big Fish Migrating North By Jason Dowdell at 04:41 PM
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Commercial Blogging Hits Legal Snag ex: Time Warner

Recently, at the search engine strategies event in San Jose I attended a session about blogging and search engine marketing. During that session I posed a question to the panel about the legal ramifications of bloggers being paid by corporations to publish their personal opinions and views of events such as conferences.

The most recent example I referred to was the Democratic National Convention extending an invite to 120 bloggers to post coverage of the event. Some of those bloggers were actually sent by companies such as Knight Ridder and were paid to post about the DNC on their blogs. This in effect connected bloggers with a corporation and since corporations don't have first ammendment rights then one would think the paid bloggers don't either.

When I posed the question I was met with many different responses but the final response was that a blog is no different than a web site and those have been around for years. I must beg to differ on that point though. Especially when a blog is being subsidized by a commercial institution.

Well it looks like Time Warner got into some trouble with blogging and I'll let you read the article for yourself. I think we're entering a very intersting point in the evolution of the blog and this is the first of many hurdles we'll have to overcome.

"arner Brothers Records pulled out all the stops recently to promote a rock band, the Secret Machines, on the Internet. But there is one stop that might have been better left unpulled.

Earlier this month, Warner became the first major record label to ask MP3 blogs to play its music. The blogs - which are relatively new but increasingly popular - are personal Web sites that offer music criticism right next to the actual music, in the form of downloadable MP3 files.

But as is sometimes the case when marketers try to insinuate themselves into online communities, the company's approach did not go as planned. Warner - which was part of the Time Warner media empire until February, when it was sold to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. - ran into a culture clash with the small world of MP3 blogs, annoying some of the very people it wanted to win over, especially after one or more people at Warner apparently posted anonymous messages to make it appear that ordinary music fans were defending the label.

And because many MP3 blogs exist in a legal gray area - to accompany their musings on the music, bloggers post complete song files, usually without permission - the campaign put Warner in the position of currying favor with people whose views on file sharing are far more liberal than those of the music industry's lawyers.

Two weeks ago, at least eight MP3 bloggers received an e-mail message from Ian Cripps, a Warner employee. In the messages, which were identical and came with an MP3 file attached, Mr. Cripps told the bloggers that he loved their sites.

"We are very interested in blogs and I was wondering if you could post this mp3," he wrote. "It's by one of our new bands - The Secret Machines. They are an indie rock band and we would love for people to hear the band's music from your site. Here it is, listen to it and let me know if you will post it. Thanks!!"

The pitch to MP3 blogs was part of an ambitious online campaign that was the work of Robin Bechtel, vice president for new media at Warner Brothers and Reprise Records. The campaign's first unusual component was a decision to start selling the Secret Machines album through Apple's iTunes store and other online outlets last February, nearly four months before it was available on CD. The move drew attention to the album, which received strong reviews.

Ms. Bechtel said that the company had contacted many sites for the Web part of the publicity effort, and that the messages to MP3 blogs were an experiment. "We're really progressive in trying things," she said.

The messages from Warner were big news among the bloggers. Independent labels like SpinArt have been paying attention to the MP3 blogs for months, sending them music as a way to get it heard in an age of tightly controlled radio playlists. Some bloggers saw the message from Warner as a sign that the major labels might spare their sites while cracking on illegal file sharing.

"We didn't know if there was a wink that came along with it that said, 'We don't have a problem with what you're doing,' " said Mark Willett, a contributor to Music for Robots (, a popular MP3 blog that attracts about 2,400 visitors a day.

Ms. Bechtel said the sites chosen by Warner "were promoting music responsibly" by offering authorized downloads or linking to online stores. She said that despite their small audiences, MP3 blogs were a good way to build positive word-of-mouth.

"Music blogs in general remind me of that friend you had in high school who would turn you on to the best bands," she said.

Many of the blogs were ambivalent about Warner's request: they were flattered by the attention but concerned about compromising their principles, or appearing to do so. In the end, Music for Robots was the only blog to post the track after receiving it from Warner (two others had already posted Secret Machines tracks independently). In an almost apologetic blog entry titled "Music for Robots Sells Out," Mr. Willett wrote that the song was appearing there not because the band needed the exposure, but to establish a relationship with Warner and to let readers know what was going on.

Other sites were less cooperative. Most MP3 bloggers have a strong independent streak and love to unearth obscure musical nuggets, so a song like the Secret Machines single that was already being played on commercial radio was of little interest to them. And once one had posted it, the others were even more inclined to steer clear.

Matthew Perpetua, who publishes Fluxblog (, another popular MP3 blog, said he decided against posting the song, in part because "I didn't want to look like the person who was going with anything the label was sending me."

In the week after the song was posted on Music for Robots, a message board on the site attracted some thoughtful commentary on Warner's move. But a few comments, posted under several different names, stood out because they looked like something one might read on a teen-pop fan site.

"I never heard these guys before, but theyre awesome," read a posting last Thursday under the name Ron. "I went to their website and you can listen to a lot of ther other stuff, very cool and very good!" Another post, sprinkled with casual profanity, asserted that big corporations could still release good music, and cited the Beatles as an example.

A check of site records by Mr. Willett revealed that all four of the suspect comments had been posted from the same Internet Protocol address, indicating that they came from the same computer or from a computer within the same company. That address was also the source of two e-mail messages that Ms. Bechtel sent to a reporter, as well as the original messages sent to the bloggers.

The entertainment industry has for some years been going into chat rooms and message boards to promote its products. But Ms. Bechtel said this kind of activity was not part of the Secret Machines campaign. She said the comments could have been posted independently by fans of the band who worked at the company.

"We're not sitting here typing in message boards that the band is great," she said. "But if somebody in the building loves the band, I can see them doing it. People at record companies are also huge fans."

Many bloggers found Warner's campaign to be clumsy at best, and sneaky at worst.

"You can't just dive headfirst into a subculture and expect it to bend over backwards to cater to your lame attempt at free advertising," said Andrew Nosnitsky, a senior at George Washington University who writes about hip-hop on his blog at Mr. Nosnitsky also mocked Warner for sending a rock track to a hip-hop site.

Mr. Willett said that it was obvious the favorable comments on his site had not been left by "real people," and that they had soured his opinion of Warner Brothers' Internet efforts. "I know we're dealing in relatively uncharted territory here, but I'd expect a slightly different level of participation," he said. "We're not an AOL chat room."

The complete story can be found here but requires a subscription to the New York Times.

Commercial Blogging Hits Legal Snag ex: Time Warner By Jason Dowdell at 12:07 PM
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« August 2004 Week 2 August 2004 Week 4 »

  • Week 1 (2 entries) August 1-7
  • Week 2 (8 entries) August 8-14
  • Week 3 (9 entries) August 15-21
  • Week 4 (8 entries) August 22-28
  • Week 5 (0 entries) August 29-31

Commercial Blogging Hits Legal Snag ex: Time Warner
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