Tim Yang’s Weblog

Jump to content

About Tim Yang’s Weblog

Nothing to see here.





Author Archive

Free Christmas present delivery

Nov 2005

Research shows that most online retailers are expected to offer free delivery this Christmas. So if your online shop isn’t giving free deliver, try shopping elsewhere.

A survey by Shop.org and BizRate Research suggests 79% of online retailers will offer free shipping with conditions such as a minimum order.

Google user research by industry

Nov 2005

In order to help advertisers make up their mind about using Adwords to promote their products, Google has provided some very useful consumer data for the usage of search engines according to industry. I was particularly interested in the search engine usage for travellers because I have a mate who is setting up a travel portal and I’ve been advising her to use Google Adwords to get to the top SERP.

Google Advertising

PhpBMS - Invoice, scheduling software

Nov 2005

This week, I’m testing out the new PhpBMS software. It’s an online system into which you enter all kinds of client details, including meeting schedules, deadlines and invoicing. It’s not bad for something which you want to use for viewing important client details at a glance. And it uses AJAX too.


New blog: adblog.wordpress.com

Nov 2005

Back in 1998, there was a very popular website called Adcritic.com that tapped into the idea that people actually like seeing TV commercials. They showcased new commercials, mostly from the US. The site became so popular that when it closed down, it became the poster child for Popularity Meltdown. Bandwidth costs money and video takes up a lot of bandwidth. Adcritic later rose again, but in a paid subscription model and never regained its earlier popularity.

The next generation of video content sites like iFilm.com learned from the Adcritic case and created partnerships with bandwidth providers. But video content sites became anathema to venture capitalists. Until this year.

With the increasing popularity of high quality digital video recorders and the rise of the mobile phone video recorders, video blogging started becoming the in-thing. The year of the video bloggers began in 2004 (or arguably somewhat earlier) as people began making their own video content and posting them on their blogs. Then sites like Youtube.com and Video.google.com burst onto the scene earlier this year and things never looked better for video blogging.

Now that I’m in the advertising industry, I wanted to re-look into TV commercial blogs. There were none. Advertising blogs up till now focused on posters and press ads and photos of ambient media — cheap low-bandwidth-sucking images. One of the issues was that there was no reliable video hosting that was cheap enough for the lone enthusiast to afford. But with user-submission sites like Youtube and Google Video, fans of TV commercials now have free and reliable hosting resources to make highlight their favourite commercials.

So I made adblog.wordpress.com, a brand new TV commercial blog. It showcases the commercials that I like, culled from sites like thespecspot.com, viralx.com and adforum.com. The videos are hosted on these sites and I blog links to them. Or else, if I find the video on other sites, I upload them to Youtube. (Nice thing about Youtube and Google Video is that they generate thumbnails of the video from screenshots.)

There is so much TV commercial content floating all over the internet right now that I can post about four commercials a day and still have left over content for the following day. I hope you enjoy the commercials as much as I enjoy blogging about them.

RSS consultant needed

Oct 2005

A friend and IM-collaborator, Eric Thom of RSSapplied.com, needs an RSS consultant and blogger immediately.

RSS Applied has been focused on the business opportunities presented by RSS and Weblogs for years, and we’re ready to bring another person onboard. This position will involve intense daily research focused on the latest RSS technology news, business blogging strategies, corporate communications, podcasting applications, as well as blog design and navigation.

All inquires should be addressed to manage@rssapplied.com


Oct 2005

I’ve been playing around with Zohoplanner and I think I’m going to be using it more often to get things organised. It is an online interface that lets you create todo lists and make notes. There are a few things that I hope they will add later like a wiki like Schtuff.com has. (I love wikis. They’re just so easy to use and my MoinX desktop wiki has taken over as my favourite desktop publishing interface.) Zohoplanner also allows people to view your lists and notes, but it doesn’t have RSS feeds for updates.

What do you write for a small business blog

Oct 2005

Particletree has an article on small business blogging making arguments for it. The article brings up the point that small businesses think that blogging is too time consuming. But I think they’d change their minds if they knew of the interesting and wide range of things they could blog about. For most people, blogging is synonymous with ranting and political monologues. Having a list of small-business-related topics (and examples of their execution) could fire up the imagination of small businesses and their motivation to blog. The Particletree article lists a few:

  1. Issues the company itself is dealing with
  2. New product ideas
  3. Marketing ideas
  4. Small business issues
  5. Practical tips
  6. References and links to other articles

But a blog is an interactive channel. So to this list I would add a few feedback ideas, thought sharing ideas and more. A blog is also not just a marketing channel, but also a channel to assert your expertise, a public relations channel and a relationship/trust building channel. So I could add a few more ideas to the list:

  1. Letters from readers/customers
  2. Solicitations for feedback on product issues
  3. Solicitations for feedback on marketing issues (RevenueRoundtable)
  4. Consumer/Customer meetups
  5. Reviews of related books/websites/articles (RevenueRoundtable)
  6. Industry/ethics issues (RevenueRoundtable)
  7. Social issues (SkyeCreative)
  8. Consumer issues (RevenueRoundtable)
  9. New products (DenaliFlavors)
  10. New press coverage (DenaliFlavors)
  11. Announcements of new clients
  12. Announcements of new locations/outlets
  13. Announcements of new employees
  14. Announcements of new partners or suppliers (SkyeCreative)
  15. Conferences and other upcoming events that business representatives will attend
  16. Customer/Service policy changes or new policy issues
  17. Case studies

Sorry I didn’t have time to find examples of all of the list. I’ll add more, but please feel free to suggest some. Links via PowerBlog Review.

The real top ten tips for blogging anonymously

Sep 2005

As many of you know, Reporters without Borders released a PDF handbook about blogging for dissident bloggers. Actually a lot of it also deals with making a good blog, like the section about blogging ethics and search engine optimisation. Completely irrelevant. If I was blogging at risk, I think I would have more pressing concerns than getting my blog spidered by Google. My chief concern was the section about Blogging Anonymously by Ethan Zuckerman which contains a lot of shockingly bad (and sometimes unnecessary) advice for blogging anonymously. So, here’s the real top ten tips for blogging anonymously.

  1. Get a new email address from a free email host.

    As anonymous as you think your own email address is, it is imperative to get a new one. Keep your real identity and your fake identity completely separate. Use your fake email address to open a new blogging account, don’t use a blogging account that was opened with your real email address. I recommend a service like Hotmail.com that does not require your real email to make an email confirmation for opening a new account. One thing Zuckerman did not mention is that you need to choose an email name that has nothing to do with your name or anything to do with you. No funny play on words or use of acronyms. Enough coincidences like that and you’ll be scuppered.

  2. Get a blogging account from a popular blog host.

    Zuckerman made recommendations such as weblogs.us and seo-blog.org. Let’s get serious here. No disrespect to the guys who run those two hosting services, but I doubt they have the legal team like Yahoo, MSN or Google’s to back them up. You have to go for blog hosts that won’t crap their pants at the sight of a lawyer’s letter or the FBI at their door. Go for blogspot.com or livejournal.com or MSN Spaces. Accept no imitations.

  3. Blog from cybercafes

    Library computers are public, but some libraries require a lending identity card to use their computers. Anything that suggests your identity is bad. Go for a crowded cybercafe always. Zuckerman’s advice on switching your cybercafes often is a good one. Never choose any that are near your place of work or place of residence. Never choose one in which you have membership privileges because they will have notes on you. Always choose one that’s crowded and popular at all times. And always choose a seat in the cafe with your back to the wall! If you can be observed posting to your blog, you’re scuppered. As far as any security expert is concerned, the key to figuring out who you are is figuring out which computer you use.

  4. Forget about anonymous proxies

    Anonymous proxies don’t hide your identity. Even those that say they are “high anonymity” often are not. Do you want to trust a sysop to state the truth about his service when that service is for clandestine purposes? Anonymous proxies only make it difficult to make a direct trace to your computer, not impossible. And if the authorities already suspect which computer is being used to make blog posts, anonymous proxies won’t help. If you have to use an anonymous proxy, it means you are using the wrong computer. Always blog from popular public computers. Zuckerman’s suggestion that it can be safe to blog from your home with an anonymous proxy will earn you a knock at the door at midnight.

  5. Tell no one

    Zuckerman’s advice to seek the aid of a computer expert is his second worst piece of advice. That computer expert is yet another person who can finger you. Tell no one. (And do I have to mention here that you shouldn’t keep any notes related to your blogging topics? Notes = evidence that can be used against you.)

  6. Onion-router schmonion-router

    If you’re reading a handbook from Reporters without Borders on internet anonymity, you obviously don’t know anything about internet anonymity. Setting up an onion router compounds the problems of having to ask for help to set it up and putting too much trust in technology to hide yourself. If the authorities are going high-tech to find you, then go low-tech for protection. Tell no one and use popular public computers.

  7. Encryption: Are we still talking about that old hat?

    Sure, you can follow Zuckerman’s advice and set up PGP encryption and post via email to a remailer to a blogging service like Blogger.com that allows posting via email. Does that promote your anonymity? Hell no. It only means that someone intercepting your email will have a hard time discovering its content. If they’re already intercepting your email, you’re living on borrowed time. This technique also gives you the false sense of security that you’re safe while blogging from your own computer. You’re most certainly not. Furthermore, the shadow of the email you sent can be used as evidence against you.

  8. Post via email

    I am not saying that blogging via email is a bad idea. In fact, it’s a very very good idea. If you are being observed, a tell-tale sign of blogging is when you open up an obviously recognisable interface like Blogger.com’s. Blogging via email does not look like blogging at all. It looks like you are sending a supposedly harmless email. If you are using a blogging service that allows posting via email, set that up and don’t open the regular blogging interface. And make sure your email software keeps no traces in the “Sent” folder.

  9. Flush your cache

    If you are using a web interface for blogging, flush your cache before you leave your seat as an added precaution. Caches are logs of the sites you visited and can remain in a public computer for several days. Flushing the cache removes traces of what sites you were at. Go to the Preferences of your browser, find the Security tab and click on Empty Cache. This is a good practice to have when using a public computer, even if you are not blogging at risk. This is not a fool-proof technique since deleted log files can sometimes be recovered. But used in conjunction with other precautions, the authorities will have a harder time finding stuff about you, especially when the authorities don’t have the special expertise needed to recover deleted caches.

  10. Don’t panic!

    Be mindful of the force (and the authorities), but do not get paranoid or panic. The authorities are waiting for you to make a mistake and the chances of making one rise hundred-fold when you are out of your mind. If you think the authorities are close, test that assumption by changing your habits (like switching to a new cybercafe temporarily). In the movie Hunt for Red October, they called it a Crazy Ivan. Zig when they think you will zag.

The EFF has more real world tips on blogging anonymously.

Google blog search

Sep 2005

Hot news this week: Google has launched a blog search tool. I think we were always expecting a blog: operator for the regular Google search site, which I think I would have liked better. But Google decided to come up with a separate engine. If they had decided on a new operator, then (given Google.com’s ubiquity) Technorati.com would have had something to worry about. So far all the other contenders like IceRocket.com and Blogpulse.com have nothing on Technorati because of either a lack of results, lateness or too many duplicates. For Google, it appears that their problem is too much spam and not quite as many results as Technorati. And one strange thing I noted was that Google blog search is getting a lot of results from RSS feeds. This means that if you are publishing only a partial content feed instead of a full content feed, you won’t be getting as many references as you should.

Google Blog search looks like a decent companion (I’m subscribing to both Technorati and Google RSS feeds of myself), but I wouldn’t be declaring the death of Technorati yet. What we need right now is a Google and Technorati side-by-side blog search comparison tool ala Yagoohoogle.

Tell me about your blog

Sep 2005

If you read my blog and if you have a blog, tell me about it. I already have a short list of other bloggers who read my blog, but I got them mostly from comments and from blog-search tools like Technorati. I have a list called “Readers” in my RSS feed reader, but it’s still very thin and I’d like to boost it. So leave me a comment or write me an email. Thanks!



Copywriter Malaysia