Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sawed-off USB key

Every joe and his dog has a USB key. Some have flashing lights and some are cute little Japanese characters. None so far, however, are as cool as this!

Here is the coolest USB drive I have ever seen. Alas it cannot be bought. Yet!

For those with a technical irk though, there are simple instructions at evilmadscientist.com to create your own.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Can you trust your ISP?

For some time now I’ve been seeing posts popping up on various blogs and forums, all of them asking the question – is your ISP tracking our surfing?

Three different techoblogs that I subscribe to swear that there is no way to know for sure. Due to the point of information flow that your ISP sits, they could monitor, record and analyse every move you make on the net without your knowledge. There are however people out there who claim that they not only know that ISPs are doing this but they’ve caught them doing it.

So the question isn’t are they doing it, but how and why are they doing it.

The level of information an ISP can gather on the individual is huge. Every email you read, every website you visit and the exact time of day and length of time you do it all, passes straight through their systems. So it’s not a long stretch of the imagination to realise why. With demographical information like this, the potential for advertising targeting is unsurpassed.

To do it however, an ISP needs to sell that information to someone who can use it. So, step in Phorm. Professional adware merchants, Phorm form the connection between ISPs and advertisers.

Thankfully there are members of the public out there who are pitting their skills and talent against these people. One of my, now essential, plugins for Firefox on all the pcs I use is Deformation. This nifty little plugin will prevent Phorm from functioning, unfortunately if you ISP is working with NebuAd or Front Porch it can’t help. So what to do?

Well for now, the only thing is to keep a constant eye on you line and make sure you read every bit of info your ISP throws at you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Image Search – Goodbye Alt Tags!

Currently Google image Search uses the standard SEO-familiar methods of ranking all images – alt tags, file name etc. There is also an element of human analysis with a random image review system. This is how it has worked for quite some time, but perhaps not for much longer.

Last week at the World Wide Web Consortium conference in Beijing*, two Google scientists delivered a paper which could revolutionise image search and turn at least one element of Universal Search on it’s head.

The paper, “Page Rank for Product Image Search”, outlines a method to remove Google’s dependency on alt tags for image description. The paper proposes a new system called ‘VisualRank’. This new algorithm takes elements of cutting edge image recognition software and incorporates existing techniques for weighting and ranking. This new type of image search will be able to rank images directly from the image contents.

While the algorithm is still in testing and not yet ready for commercial use, it may not be too long before there is no human interface needed to create extensive image ranking. Crawlers, using the new system, will work across the web devouring every un-optimised image out there. Eventually you should be able to find a picture of literally anything!

*It will probably seem very surprising to hear that China (Beijing) will be hosting a conference on the web's future, themed 'One World, One Web'. What is probably even more surprising is that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees web standards, is lending its credibility to the conference.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rise of the Ad Network

More and more often, Digital Advertising Agencies are utilising ad networks to bolster placement inventories of online campaigns. Ad networks, which sell display advertising across groups of Web sites, are thriving because of two key points: price and improved technology. When it comes to pricing, ad networks will offer significantly lower CPM/CPC prices then due mainly to the fact that they once served ads to pages where no advertiser wanted to be. Now, though, there are many instances where there are many attractive placements not on the home pages. Additionally, many ad networks now serve targeted ads.

Imran Khan, an Internet analyst at JPMorgan Chase, recently published a report saying “[ad networks] are growing much faster than the general graphical advertising industry.” His calculation was that the top 20 ad networks represented 14 percent of the global display market.

Spurred on by this success, the big players are buying their way into the game. Yahoo bought BlueLithium for $300 million last September. Last July, AOL bought Tacoda for a reported $275 million. Last May, Microsoft bought aQuantive for $6 billion. DoubleClick, which also owns ad networks, was acquired by Google for $3.1 billion.

“These are the gold rush days now for ad networks,” said David Hallerman, senior analyst with eMarketer. “And that kind of counters the appeal of ad networks for advertisers’ agencies, which was to simplify the purchase of ads. And that’s why its unlikely that a great number of ad networks will survive.”

Several sources used, including NY Times, eMarketer, eConsultant and JPMorgan Chase

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spencer Tunick - Dublin and Cork

Hey folks,
Just wanted to drop in a quick post on one of the most interesting events happening this summer....

Spencer Tunick - Dublin and Cork
For anyone not familiar with Spencer Tunick's work, it'd be a good idea to check out his official website, his Wiki and his Hales Gallery entry. The big news is that Tunick will be doing two projects here in Ireland this June. One in Cork and the other here in Dublin's Docklands. Not that I'm a nudest or exhibitionist in any way but I am definitely excited that Ireland is attracting artists of such international acclaim. I'm also not entirely sure as to how well the projects will be received - I think it's fair to say that there are an aweful lot of Irish people who will have a huge issue with such a public display of nudity. Guess time will tell.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

And so it starts....

I suppose I'll start this by writing a bit about myself and why I'm doing this. Not the most original beginning but hopefully I'll make up for that with all that follows. I'd like to think I can keep you both interested and entertained.

I'm a 27 year old Digital Marketing Executive, working in Dublin. I haven't always lived in Dublin and in fact I wasn't even born here. I was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. Both my parents are Irish but I do consider myself South African. I've also had the pleasure of travelling quite a bit and living in a few other places. None of that is particularly important now, and unlike Kurt Vonnegut (a favourite author of mine) I don't think it necessary to tell the reader absolutely everything from the beginning. I think you'll have more fun learning it as you read.

So I guess for now that's all I'll say about myself.

As for what this is all about, well, I like to write and (thanks to work, where I contribute to our company blog) I have also recently discovered that I like to blog. I'm interested in Digital Marketing, new/innovative/emerging technologies, design (both graphic and industrial) and photography. This blog will be about all these things. I'm sure there'll be a few other topics which slip in here and there; music, film, art etc. but all in all it'll be mostly about those things.

This is probably already longer then it should be for a blog so I'll stop. Hopefully if you read this and are interested in reading more, you will.