Prusak.com

Serving up my thoughts since 2004

Category: General (page 1 of 2)

Digitial Media Streamer – Take 2

A few years ago I decided to get a “video jukebox” type of device that would let me view videos (mostly my daughter’s stuff) without having to switch DVDs all the time.

At the time I got an Archos TV+.

It’s a great device, but is no longer supported and doesn’t support HD.

I’m now on the lookout for a new device that supports the following:

  • Built in Ethernet (so I can play from our DS209 NAS Device)
  • Can play DVD ISOs with full menu support (so I don’t have to rip my DVDs into individual files / easy subtitle support, etc)
  • Supports HD (720 is fine for me, though it seems they all do full 1080)
  • Can play the usual suspects (divx, xvid, mp4, aac, etc)
  • Not a full fledged PC (something I can put on top of my DVD player)

I’m creating a list and will post here later, though please chime in if you have suggestions.

Thanks
Ophir

New Job at POP

I have just accepted a full time position at POP.
My title is Search and Analytics Strategist.

I’m really excited about my new job and will soon be sharing some thoughts on where I think Internet development and marketing is going.

Back from the Dead

Hi All,

I just found out today that www.prusak.com has been down for about 48 hours ūüôĀ

I’ve been with my hosting provider – www.DreamHost.com – since 1999 and they’ve been rock solid so I never had any reason to setup any site monitoring services.

Also, I use Google apps for prusak.com email so that was working fine.

After 6 hours I finally got a reply to my urgent help ticket (they don’t have a number you can call for phone support) stating that:

Your domain is not pointed to our nameservers. Due to that, we cannot
update your DNS information if/when we need to change IPs (such as in the
cases of failing over pf services, moving apache instances, or
circumventing DDOS attacks).

Due to the sheer number of sites we host (700,000+) its not particuarlly
plausable to email our customers these changes, as <1% of our customer
base actually manage their own IPs.

Give me a break!

1 – It’s trivial to check which customers manage their own IPs
2 – When you do need to change IPs (which really shouldn’t be that often) I’m guessing only a fraction of your 700,000 sites are affected.

On a side note:
– I changed my DNS to dreamhost (so this won’t happen again)
– I signed up for a few free web site monitoring services. The only one which kept on sending me email while the site was down is BasicState.com (I figure I own them a free link). I’m not crazy about the user interface, but it works.

– Ophir

Job Interview Tips

A few days ago someone posted a question about job interviews on a list I’m subscribed to. I ended up writing a fairly long response, which could be benificial to other people, so here it is.

Here’s the original post with the question:

I’ve always been puzzled by one particular interview question, and it seems important, because the lead-up always go something like this: the interviewer wraps up his/her speech, relaxes backwards in the chair, and says, ‘now, what questions do you have for me?’

Once you know the technology you’re going to be using, and what you’re going to be using it for, what is there to really ask? ¬† I fail miserably at this, and usually say something like, grumble grumble, I think I have a good overview of what’s going on, so at this point, no, I don’t – but I’m sure I’ll think of some on the way home. ¬†But I never really do know what to ask.

First of all, if you’re currently looking for a job – you need to get these books:

Continue reading

How to Advertise Online

It all boils down to this:

Only Advertise Where You Are Able To Calculate ROI.

We track each campaign individually with web analytics tools like google analytics (which is now open to everyone so you have no excuse for not having performance data).

Lets say that on average 1 in 100 visitors will purchase something on your site and that the average purchase is for $50.
The math is pretty simple:
1/100 = 1% conversion rate
$50 (avg purchase)  *  %1 = 50 cents.

This means that 50 cents per visitor is your break even point.

Of course, these are just averages.
In order to know if a specific campaign (or keyword) is actually profitable at a certain price point, you need to measure the actual behavior of visitors from that campaign.

Our main problem is that sometimes it takes a lot of traffic to measure the true effectiveness of a campaign.

Lets say that you have a keyword (or campaign) that has brought in 100 visitors but no sales yet.
Do I let it ride?
Do I stop?

It’s impossible to make a good decision at this point only based on¬†the number of visitors and number of sales.

That’s why you need other performance metrics that can give you earlier indications of performance.
For us, we measure (among other things):
– bounce rate (abandonment rate)
– avg number of page views
– avg time on site
– email leads (signed up for our newsletter)
– viewed any product detail page

When you take a look at the above numbers for each campaign, you can quickly see if the campaign has the potential for being profitable without waiting for actual sales data.

Of course, you need to also take into account lifetime value of a customer, but that to can be factored in if you record the campaign that brought you the customer.

Hope that helps
– Ophir

A Better Spam Solution

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have decided to finally write about it. This is basically an open letter to the people that write email clients and/or spam filtering services or software.

Spam is an issue that effects everyone I know – even my mom sometimes calls me and asks what to do with the emails that she doesn’t understand why she received.

I’ve been looking for a good spam solution for the past couple of years, but to be honest, I haven’t really found anything that I’m 100% happy with.

I think a big part of the problem is simply the fact that all email clients that I’m aware of define spam as black or white. While it’s usually obvious to a human eye if an email is spam, to a computer program, it’ll always be shades of grey.

What usually happens when a computer tries to determine if an email is spam is that it goes through a number of “tests”. Think of it as checklist that the computer is going through – like a 100 point inspection given to a used car (some questions are worth more than others). At the end of this process, the computer gives the the email a¬†“spam¬†score”.

Lets say a score of zero means that the email is for sure not spam and a score of 100 means the¬†email is for sure spam. In reality, very few emails get a score of 100. Spammers are getting better at “passing the tests”. What happens is that the computer decides that if an email is above a certain threshold, lets say 80, then the email is flagged as spam and goes into your “spam box”.

Some of the better spam services do indeed allow you to define how aggressive you want them to be Рin other words, what number to use for the threshold that splits between spam and non spam.

The problem is that if you aren’t aggressive enough, to many spam emails are not getting tagged as spam (called false negatives) and¬†if you are to aggressive, you start tagging non spam emails as spam (false positives).

My proposal is to simply:

  • Expose the internal spam score to the user.
  • Be able to¬†sort by the spam score column.

That way, if I receive 100 emails a day which the computer thinks is spam, I don’t really have to skim through all 100 to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I can just check the ones that are borderline and go ahead and delete the rest.

Of course, this does¬†give¬†spammers a tool¬†which makes it easier for them to check how “spammy” an email is, but they’d be able to check in any case.

I need to write more

I was just thinking yesterday that I’m feeling unsatisfied and was trying to figure out what was missing. Then I realized – I need to write more.

I know a lot of stuff. I’m a very bright guy and I like to teach. The problem is that I think to much about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it, and I don’t spend enough time just doing it.

So I’m doing it now – I’m writing. I have tons of ideas what to write about.

Like for instance, spam. It’s a problem that effects everyone, and there is a fairly simple change that spam aware email clients can make that would help a lot. I’ll write more on this in a separate post.

Or the fact that most web sites are missing a big piece of the puzzle about how to create web sites that “get the job done”. I’m fortunate enough to have worked on all aspects of a web site to know how most people who work on a web site think.

The tech people are thinking about performance, security, scalability etc. The designers are thinking about does it look good, clean, etc. The biz dev / marketing people are usually thinking about what offers to make, copy-writing, messaging, branding etc.

What most web sites do not think about is conversion. Again, this is a subject that I’m sure I’ll write about in detail in a future post.

For now, I just want to keep on writing as I think without worrying to much about what I’m writing. In the past I used to write a line and then edit it to death and then write another line and then edit it again and so on. I guess I just need to write as my thoughts come to me and edit it all at the end.

Heck, I even bought a book called “How to write”. I think that’s the title, but instead of now going and finding the book and making sure this in indeed the correct title and thus loosing the momentum of writing, I’ll just keep on writing.

I must say, this is great. Just rambling along as the thoughts come to me.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. I’ll be sure to write some more soon, but I guess I should quite while I’m ahead.

I’m sure you’ll hear from me again soon,
Ophir

P.S.
I’ve read in several places that the best way to write online is that instead of trying to write to the “masses”, just try to imaging that you’re writing to one single person. I must say that this seems to be working for me.

P.S.S
If you have read this so far, It would be great if you sent me a note just letting me know:)

 

Ophir Prusak on MarketingSherpa

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything really related to my work. I should try to update my blog more often, since in essence, it’s self¬†marketing¬†ūüôā

Back in June¬†MarketingSherpa.com did a case study on a project I’m in charge of at work – Email Marketing. http://www.marketingsherpa.com/barrier.cfm?ident=28523

 A few days later Anne posted an entry about how we use our forums Рhttp://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?ident=28524

I’ve been dealing with deliverability issues at Resperate.com for about a year now. I’m glad the hard work is now paying off ūüôā

Theme Update

Just a short update.
I’ve upgraded to word press 2.0.3 and now use a new theme.

 

how to ask a question

All to often, I read a question and feel like answering with “it depends”.

If you want a good answer, you need to ask a good question.

Here’s how to write a good question:
1. Explain your end goal – why you’re doing this

example:
I want my mother who lives out of state to see some videos of my daughter.

2. Provide detailed information:

ok: I have a digital camera that I’m using to take videos. It saves avi files.
better: I’m using a Canon SD500 to take videos at 640×480, 30fps. The videos are exported as avi files.
I prefer to use a digital camera for my videos (opposed to a camcorder) since I can carry it around with me at all times.

3. Discus the requirements of the solution, and why they are requirements.
Include both the positive requirements (it should be) and the negative requirements (it shouldn’t be)
This will limit answers you might get which won’t help you as well as allow for directions you might not have thought of,

My mom is using an old mac (model XX / OS 9 / quicktime version YY)
I cannot install a newer version of quicktime because ……
I would rather not install a different movie viewer because …
I am using a PC with windows XP.
I do not have access to a mac.
I’m tight on cash so I’d prefer a free solution, but if needed can spend up to $10
I’m not a technical guru so it needs to be a fairly simple solution.

4. State what you have done so far.
bad: I’ve looking into a few options. None were promising.
better: I tried using software ABC version 3.4 for the PC. It was not able to open my file. I also did some googling and found software X, Y and Z, but they are all beyond my budget.

5. General
Use unambiguous terminology:
Don’t use terms which are relative like fast, large or cheap.
Use specific terms.
bad: How much memory do I need to edit large image files?
better: I’m trying to edit a 325MB uncompressed tif file (14,500 by 8,000 / 24bit) in photoshop 6.
My pc is a p4 2.8GHZ with 512MB ram. It currently takes 30 seconds ever time I make any change to it.
How much memory should I have so simple changes will take less than 3 seconds?

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