Leaving Do

Thank you everyone that made it last night to my send off. It was great to reminisce about old times and share stories from days gone by. It seems like St. Thomas and the coming together of the JV is burned in everyone’s memories as a particular highlight but there were also plenty of other stories of Factiva’s “derring do” as people went that extra step for either work or pleasure. The folks at Factiva are a unique group of talented people ~ keep the spirit alive, I’ll miss you all.

Add another story to the books from last night. The picture above shows David Hamm’s car which joined us for drinks last night and was still “thirsty” even after four pitchers of agua. We certainly had the waitress wondering where all the water was going. . .

David Hamm

MSN Newsbot – US Version

UPDATE: Correction. I see that the US Newsbot site has launched this morning and is framed as subset of the overall MSNBC site.

According to this CNet article, Microsoft will launch Newsbot on Tuesday next week. Although it doesn’t spell this out explicitly, it appears that this will be a site focused on aggregating news sources from North America and supplement the 17 other regional beta sites that are already up and running.

So I guess the dancing and zoning is over and the beta & pre-promotion period begins.

A shame too, now that the Toronto Star is about to join the New York Times and Globe & Mail behind the subscription wall. I guess they’ll miss the party.

Wonderful Web World

As I look for the cross-section of schools and interesting-but-reasonably-priced places to exist (does such a thing exist in the Bay Area?) I found myself wanting for a school district map overlayed on top of a map showing available placed to live. I’ve found pieces of the puzzle:

SF School District Map
greatschools.org
SF Zip Code Map

If only I could overlay the available listings which you can pull up in realtor.com or apartments.com using a zip code then I would be set.

move.JPG

In the course of looking for a tool that could tie zip codes to neighborhoods to school districts, I ran across this wonderful site by MIT Media Lab doctoral candidate, Ben Fry. His interactive Zip Code tool is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile.

UPDATE: Now 10 years later Google Maps has started to layer this information as an extension of their Google Maps service. Check out the mash-up of greatschools.org ratings and Google Maps.

Check out more mashups at the Google Maps Gallery.

For Sale

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On Wednesday, the real estate agent’s “For Sale” sign went up on our home. I knew this would be traumatic for us all but I had no idea how much. Of course we had prepped the neighbors but seeing the sign out there, with it’s brash “Buy Me” red letters really drove a stake through the neighborhood. Izumi called me at the office to tell me the sign was going in and she sounded so sad, “It’s happening. . .all the neighbors have come out to look.”

Tyler took it the hardest. We have been talking to him about this move, why it was necessary and why he would have a great time in San Francisco (“They have sea lions there! Right in the harbor!”). Yet this home is all he really knows. The friends he’s made on this blocks are his only friends. San Francisco is too far away for them to come play. “Do they speak English there?” he asked.

When the sign went in, he ran outside and tried to tear the sign out of the ground so no one would buy this house and take it away from us. I know he’ll be fine. Heck, I barely remember where I was living when I was five. But hearing this ripped a hole in my heart

Click Fraud

Write up in CNet on a dark secret known amongst the interactive advertising industry. There are a number of sites out there which artificially generate banner clicks from automated bots and use that to scam Google, Overture, and other ad syndication networks which serve up advertising and pay out commissions for clickthroughs.

This pay-for-performance gaming of the system has a counterpart in the music industry. In London, I heard cases where a record company would hire students to hit the record stores around town and buy up copies of an artist they would want to promote. The volume in sales would push that artist up on the charts and generate a hit. In the US this practice was applied to radio stations where a radio syndicate would be paid to play a hit song more regularly than other songs. This practice was called, "payola"

Another slant on this story on tainted metrics is the Mozilla plug-in Bug-Me-Not which "liberates" sites that require registration by providing a collective pool of user accounts that can be shared among its members. I always wondered why Factiva.com had customers in Afghanistan until I realized that this country was the first (and thus default) country on our registration drop down. Users listed from this country were probably just too lazy to pick their own.

With Bug-Me-Not shared IDs, it’s even easier to share such skewed profiles. I wonder how many Accountants from Afghanistan are part of the nytimes.com demographic?

On things being in more than one place

Infoworld’s Jon Udell posts outtakes from his interview with Quentin Clark, the director of program management for Microsoft’s WinFS that will serve as core technology of the next generation of Windows code-named Longhorn. Of particular interest is his take on Outlook’s current limitations and the problems posed by trying to work through this:

. . . The limitation of Outlook 11 is that it doesn’t allow you to put an item in more than one user lassoing. We want to allow multiple lists, or folders, where you can put the same thing in both. We’re removing that Outlook limitation.

We encountered significant design challenges around user experience and expectations, and also problems around the DAG (directed acyclic graph). Consider security. I take an item, it lives in a bunch of folders, what is the security on that thing? Folder 2 has it too, then moves to folder 3. All the way back on folder 1, does the owner have any way to know what’s happened? Then there’s naming. If I have a doc, call it “jon’s doc,” created in a single folder, then I want to have it appear twice in that same folder, what is it called? If it’s in a second folder, and I delete it from folder 1, then at some point I rename folders and put the doc back, calculating namespaces becomes complex.