The Up-Goer Five Text Editor (and how to use it for SEO)

Up Goer Five is one of Randall Munroe’s more famous recent xkcd infographics in which he attempts to describe the workings of a Saturn V rocket using only most commonly used 1,000 words in the English language. Here’s just a part of it:

Up Goer Five, cropped

Inspired by this, The Up-Goer Five Text Editor is a fun tool (created by Theo Sanderson) that restricts the user to just the same 1,000 words. Anything not in that tiny dictionary will be given familiar squiggly red underlines.

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor

Scientists have been trying to explain the work they do using only this reduced language. Here’s the work of a paleontologist summarised:

I study tracks, trails, places where animals make homes, and shit, both new and old, and figure out how animals do these things.
Tony Martin, paleontologist

Some of these passages come across as quite patronising (“We burn dead black stuff so that we can build things, power our houses and make our cars go.”), but some of the better ones are quite poetic. io9 has a beautiful description of Saturn:

There is a world that goes around the sun, ten times farther away from the sun than the world we live on. This world is really big – about ten times as wide as our world – and most of it is thick air pulled tight together. It has big beautiful rings around it, made of many pieces of ice.
A loving upgoerfive intro to Saturn and some of its moons, by Rachel Klippenstein

It’s worth reading the full thing.

What does this have to do with SEO? →

My Twitter archive

I’ve finally been able to download my tweet archive from Twitter. I’m really impressed with how they’ve made the data browsable and easy to explore. Here are my first tweets from January 2007:

My tweets from January 2007

Fascinating, no? You can also see some account details, which informed me that I am user ID #703,673 and that I joined on 25 Jan 2007, 8:53:08 PM (UTC).

You can get your own tweets (if they are available to you) via your settings at twitter.com/settings/account.

What else do you get? →

Why is this BBC website not available in the UK?

Updated: See end of post.

A Digg linked article I find a lot of my reading material via Digg, who occasionally link to a BBC Future story that looks like the kind of thing I’d be interested in.

However these articles (which appear on a bbc.com domain, not bbc.co.uk) are blocked from within the UK. Instead, I am presented with a ‘help’ page that tells me the following:

BBC Future (international version)

We’re sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com.

‘Dear Points of View…’ →

Halfblog: 2012 in review

WordPress fireworks WordPress.com has produced some cool-looking reports for users, summing up blog activity for 2012. It’s really just a pretty stats page, but it’s very well done with CSS animated fireworks, parallax effects and colourful graphics. You can see the complete report for halfblog.net here.

Here’s the summary it provided:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 133 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 657 posts. There were 306 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 91 MB. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 24th with 754 views. The most popular post that day was Minimalistic iPhone 5 wallpapers.

Continue reading

How not to treat your customers online: Google bring sucky web experiences to life

I really appreciate these hilarious videos made by Google Analytics. They’re a perfect illustration of how frustrating shopping online can be.

Online Checkout

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s important to ensure your website and digital marketing is running on all cylinders. Your potential customers should be able to find what they need on the digital shelf as easily as in real life. Sadly, many sites leave visitors frustrated – losing potential customers. However, the advantage of your online storefront is that you can understand where you’re losing customers and work to improve your shopping experience.

Google Analytics in Real Life: What would your customer experience look like? – analytics.blogspot.ca

Watch the other two videos from this Google campaign →

Halfblog: Now AdFree

Aside

I’ve finally decided to remove the ugly WordAds from this site, and upgraded to AdFree. I asked WordPress.com support about the possibility of spending the $30 I had accrued with WordAds on AdFree, knowing that they insist on paying out only when a user has accrued $100 of funds but reasoning that since I was spending money with them they might be able to make an exception. Nope:

Our finance department isn’t able to do it. One challenge is that our ad partners like Google Adsense don’t pay until a site has earned over $100. So if our finance department paid out accounts less than $100 we’d always be losing money on those.

I did appreciate the honest and frank answer though. Continue reading

The best Google Webmaster videos

Dear Matt Cutts I thought it might be useful to bring together ten of the most popular videos from Google’s Webmasters YouTube channel.

I’ve taken the liberty of filtering out the marketing videos and have just focused on the freely given SEO advice. Most of these feature Matt Cutts answering user-submitted questions or Maile Ohye giving general advice. These are pretty jargon-free and are clearly intended for webmasters without much working knowledge of SEO.

Learn what Google has to tell us about SEO →

Some very cool WordPress plugins

This Wednesday is the next WordPress Users Wales meet-up, and the theme is something that every WordPress user loves to talk about:

Plugins!

Plugins are shiny toys to a WordPress geek. We love to play with them, share our favourites and learn about any new cool ones that will make our old blogs perform new tricks.

Now seemed like the perfect time to list some of my personal favourites. Most of these I have used, and the rest are on my list to try very soon.

There is also some opinionated advice near the end of the post on what kinds of plugins are best avoided.

Enough waffle, show me the list! →

Wales Blog Awards 2010 and 2011: A call for information

Note: See bottom of this post for updates.

Wales Blog Awards logo Last year I wrote about the blogs that were shortlisted for – and won – the Wales Blog Awards. I had an idea for a follow-up post this year that would give a more detailed analysis of the Welsh blogging scene. I would measure things like post frequency, average comments attracted per post, image use, age of blog, social media followers etc.

In addition, I wanted to go back and look at the blogs shortlisted for 2010 and 2011. This is when I noticed that much of the history of the Wales Blog Awards has already been deleted.

Do you have any record of this information? Please read on… →

Upcoming Cardiff events: Cryptography, WordPress plug-ins and what you can’t say online

These are just some of the cool and interesting things happening in Cardiff over the next few months. I’m not trying to be as comprehensive as I have been in previous events roundups. Check out Steve’s post at SEOno for more cool things happening this month.

CryptoParty Cardiff – 22nd September 2012

CryptoParty With our rights to privacy online being eroded away little by little every day, now is a great time to learn the basics of cryptography. CryptoParty is a free and independently run initiative to promote the use of encryption tools and other ways to stay safe and secure online. Continue reading

Vi Hart on how (and why) she makes her YouTube videos

Vi HartVi Hart is a ‘professional mathemusician’ and YouTuber, currently employed by Kahn Academy. She makes brilliant animated ‘mathematical doodle’ videos that have become extremely popular.

The two videos that interested me the most however aren’t about mathematics, but about YouTube. In the first Vi explains (with a great deal of recursion) how she makes her videos: her process, production tricks and equipment used. All in her usual fun style.

In the second video she tackles why she makes her videos, and reads passages that have inspired her from anthropologist Edmund Snow Carpenter’s “They Became What They Beheld” (1970) and explains how those ideas relate to YouTube today.

How To Make A Video About How To Make A Video About How To Make A Video About How To Make

They Became What They Beheld: Medium, Message, Youtubery

In a third video, another young YouTuber has made a more conventional behind the scenes feature and interview with Vi.

Pizza / not pizza

Here is the Google search results page for ‘pizza’, circa 2012:

Google results for 'Pizza' — 2012

Clearly what you want to see and what Google wants you to see are now two different things. It wasn’t always like this. (And in fairness, it isn’t always as bad as this example.) Continue reading

Fixing film and TV distribution

Guy English has some suggestions for Apple. If Apple aren’t working on fixing film and TV distribution, I hope someone else is working to make this vision a reality:

[…] If I watched the first season of Community via Netflix streaming and now want to rewatch it on my TV as fed from an Apple TV? Make it work. I don’t care how. If you want to pop up a dialog thats asks if you’ll charge me $4.99 to $9.99 for the privilege, I’d pay. Let me pick what I want to watch, regardless of the source, and let me watch it. I have very little allegiance to the network that funded the show — I want the content. Figure out how to make that work.

If you can’t figure out how to make that direct connection to the creatives then you’ll always be stuck with a middleman that doesn’t have to be there. If there’s a syndication avenue you can explore then do so.

Fans want to watch their shows. They’ll pay to make that happen. Everything else is mired in entrenched interests. Find a way to make that happen and we’ll all agree that Firefly jumped the shark during its seventh season.

Films and TV shows need to be apps and websites, primarily. I’m never going to buy another cable package and pay for hundreds of channels I don’t care about to get the few shows I want, with adverts, weeks or months after they have already been broadcast elsewhere.

I just want to watch my show.