Facelift to My Blog

After several years of running my blog on Typepad I moved back to wordpress! The control, modern UI, diversity of plugins and themes and connectivity to the social world made me stop being lazy

Bad YouTube Experience

Yesterday while I was viewing a video on YouTube I was aggressively interrupted by a video/flash based commercial with sound. I am not sure whether that was a glitch but someone need to pay attention to the fact that people can not hear two different soundtracks at the same time. Two videos is easy since you can focus your eyes on a certain area but two sounds is too much for me:)

Phoney faces everywhere over Israel’s self defense

After watching quite a bit of the news from our little war in Gaza, both in local and foreign networks something has dawned on me. People, mainly in Europe but not only, treat Israel the country and its basic rights as if it was questionable. Somehow the critic level focused towards our country is disproportionate in comparison to what we are actually doing. It is not even comparable to what others being criticized for much bigger things with far less justified reasons. I know we are small country and rather new in comparison to countries who exist for hundreds of years but still we are a given fact as anything else on this planet! People or organizations in the western world who feel Israel's rights is somehow comparable to Hamas's the terrorist group or others who are considered terrorists by the same people who criticize themselves is just mistaken.

I am not talking about Palestinians or others highly affiliated with them who see the sufferings and sympathize with them personally. These have all the right and the same feelings that rise when see someone dead on our side happens the same there I guess. I am talking about people who seat in their convenient coffee shops and put themselves in the chair of god almighty.

I am also a bit angry at some of our spokesmen who take the strategic path of making "good" excuses to why we have the right to do what we do. Every western and so called "enlightened" country on earth would take far more drastic measures at some kind of terrorist group who sends missiles constantly at their citizens. That is the basic job of every government. Somehow the fact that we are lucky (god forbid but I can't explain otherwise our low casualty rate) is on our side does not make our rights less important.

I liked the interviewing tactic of Binyamin Nethaniahou our ex-prime minister whom instead of making excuses responded with the same questions directed at him towards the interviewer putting the other side in our place. Things such as missiles on London, Copenhagen, Ankara and any other big city in the world would have probably created a far more furious and very "non-considerate" response towards the offender. Regardless of the offender's "historical" reasons or ambitions for doing so. There are ways to communicate and missiles on civilians is not considered one of them in the western world.

Maybe it is our problem, our "Jewish" warm heart, big conscious and basic guilt that we even give an open stand to those who oppose what we do. In this war the cost for killing one terrorist while making sure we keep the lowest number of civilians casualties possible (what can you do when they hide within civilians) has risen dramatically. Before we bomb a building, where we know terrorists are there, we call each and one of the people living there to give them a 15 minutes notice. We also send a dummy missile just to make sure they can run away without getting hurt. This is unheard of in terms of being considerate towards the "enemy" But still people see us as the bully.

I remember from kindergarten a very basic thing, never be a bully but if someone tries to hurt you then you have to defend yourself in similar measures. There are those who attack first or respond very harshly but self-defense is a minimum.

Israel is a miracle to survive in this so much "unfriendly" environment where our "best" neighbor is the water in the sea and most of your "neighbors" just wish we did not exist. It would have been just reasonable to expect the rest of the world to help us sustain our western frontier towards the extreme Islamic world in our harsh location and instead we just get cold water at our face. Only when some opposer for our policy, seating in his/her safe haven in some calm European city, get a terror attack or some kind of threat then they start thinking of us warmly. Well, now it is cold for us!

Long time no blog

Well, I am finaly able to admit that blogging isn't easy as I thought it was when I started this blog. I had dreams of blogging everyday, once upon every interesting thing that happens and apparently I did not. Tried to blame it on lack of time, subjects I did not think were worthy or plain secrecy to hide my grand plans on what I do but these are all just plain and lame excuses. I actually miss blogging, though I was much more active when I did not run Aggreg's activities.

Anyway, after not blogging for a while I understood that blogging is not actually being done for the sake of other people, and that it mainly serves me. This online form of expressing thoughts and ideas has mind refreshing effects even if no one reads them. Then why would not I write a personal diary, well, it is just not the same.

Getting back to blogging, well I am currently in some kind of a crossroad where I contemplate on further investing (and salvaging all "sunk cost"(:) on Aggreg's activities which are highly related to blog indexing and search (strategicboard, king ping) or maybe do something else.

Strategicboard, which has started in my mind as an enterprise competitive analytics tool has evolved quite fast into a small blog search engine, which has been home grown to track and index 2 Million blogs. To Aggreg's activities I have added King Ping, a central blog pinging service and TrendMapper, a search engine trending service. To be honest none of these really took off for many reasons I understand and probably many more I don't.

My general plan for 2008 was to revamp the backend of Aggreg to deal with the whole blogosphere 200M+- blogs and although the plan and infrastructure challenges are solved theoritecally, still I find it hard to really pursue the plans without clear understanding of my direction.

Let's say I already did the upgrade and I have now a nice blog search engine with full coverage on the blogosphere and with all the must have's such as topic classification, spam filtering and other goodies. What can I really do with it that other did not?

Technorati  has these capabilities I am talking about for a long time now and although there are many complaints on the net that they lack cool and effective features that are driven by past existing passion, still I can not pretend to think that I can do a better job. I can find many fault with what they do but I also highly appreciate their position and challenge.

Tailrank being developed by highly admired (I admire him) Kevin Burton has reduced focus from the public blog search engine into an outsourced blogosphere crawler/indexer to be used by other vendors or enterprises (Spinn3r).  Spinn3r is wrapped really nicely for big clients but still I personally do not believe too much in this kind of market and the reduction of focus on Tailrank says to me Kevin does not believe too much in the public service called blog search engine too much either.

Twingly, a new sweden company with the highlight of being spam less blog search engine. I tried it several times but could not get the feeling this was the killer feature blog search engines miss of all. Again, the product is wrapped really nice (much better job then I did:) but still I am not sure users are flooding to their service.

Google Blogsearch, this is the weirdest of all services and is ranked the lowest in the list of blog search engines I appreciate. Although being powered by the dreamy infrastructure Google can provide to web apps and has basically the widest coverage and highest refresh rate on content of all other competitors, still it is just lack of a charecter. Intrnet users can access blogs via their regular search engine (and I guess most of them do without even being aware to the fact they visit blogs) and it seems that instead of adding a small checkbox in the regular search engine to filter results from blog they create some simple user interface. It seems to me no one in Google takes a second glance at their results in the blog search engine and they created it as a funny counter move to the so called industry of blog search engines in their eyes. It is a bit of an insult to people who are really interested to blogs.

Of course there are any others, small and big where aggregators also come into the pictures (where is the boundary between an aggregator and a blog search engine lie?) and these are just several examples I see from the industry.

Getting back to my humble efforts, I can not say seriously that I have found the one/two features that others miss, where I can fix it and become the head of the pack. I am not sure whether it is even a real pack?

To list some of the aspects that are good and bad within specific companies we can see:

  • Topic classification whether structural or semi structural
  • Spam filtering
  • Real blog ranking except for simply counting incoming links or running an artificial pagerank on this portion of the web
  • Rich blogger tools
  • On demand service such as watchlists, I saw many complaint on Technorati's weakness in this area but still we have pubsub and Google Alerts to remember
  • Really fresh content
  • Many widgets?
  • Rich media
  • ….
  • Maybe all?

I guess that is all in terms of my thoughts on the area and I have to say I really love and believe in blogs as a medium that will evolve and I still try to find my way into it.

Full disclosure

Many times when I write about Strategic Board I use the word "we" instead of "I". It is an old habit of always being part of a larger group.

Anyway, for anyone interested, I am the only person behind Strategic Board (and few other surprises in the near future) doing everything starting at development, desig, system administration and of course washing the dishes:)

Dudu