October 29, 2014 Chris Hall

Time to do some hacking on DuckDuckGo


DuckDuckGo has long been one of our favorite search engines, and given the amount of programmers and developers we have in our community, it's probably one of your favorites, too. (If you're not using it, give DuckDuckGo a shot. Unlike Google/Bing, DDG doesn't collect or share any personal information, and ads really are kept to a minimum.)

And now, DuckDuckGo is letting the community "hack the search engine."

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October 27, 2014 Chris Hall

Moving all your content to Facebook is a really bad idea

From The New York Times:

Facebook hopes it has a fix for all that. The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it mentioned was for publishers to simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared.

That kind of wholesale transfer of content sends a cold, dark chill down the collective spine of publishers, both traditional and digital insurgents alike. If Facebook’s mobile app hosted publishers’ pages, the relationship with customers, most of the data about what they did and the reading experience would all belong to the platform. Media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.

No matter who you are, at the end of the day, if you're writing worthwhile content meant to be read by worthwhile people, you want to be in control of that content. And that requires your own domain name and a platform that gives you complete control over what happens.

What you don't want is to be solely dependent on someone else's world. Facebook, Google+, Medium—these are places that exist to make other people lots and lots of money. Sure, they can be great sources of social traffic, what happens when your needs (readers) and their needs (profit) don't align anymore? How sure are you that a future algorithm change won't completely wipe your work for your reader's eyes?

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October 23, 2014 Lenz Gschwendtner

Subdomain rot and the security implications

Subdomain rot and the security implications

If you're anything like us, you probably know all-to-well the excitement of trying out new hosted services, then linking them to a subdomain of your main domain. You might try out a platform like Desk and put it on help.domain.tld, then try another platform on support.domain.tld. And inevitably, you'll find the one you like best and move on from there.

But so many of us make the mistake of forgetting all the unused subdomains we have. On the surface, nothing on your site is any different, but then you start noticing the credit card statements filled with services you're not actually using. Canceling them is easy, but then there's the domain side. Even after you cancel the billing, your unused subdomain (let's say help.domain.tld, which was on Desk) is still being linked to the platform, and when you go to the domain, you're met with the default platform error message.

Nothing to worry about, right?

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October 21, 2014 Chris Hall

Nielson and Adobe are looking to rate the internet

From Wired:

The Nielsen ratings have long held huge sway over the business of television, but television isn’t like it used to be. So, on Tuesday, Nielsen announced that it’s expanding its ratings system to all kinds of digital content to give both its creators and advertisers a more meaningful way to measure popularity in the online era.

The most striking development in Adobe’s new system is that it’s designed for comparing disparate kinds of content. The new ratings, Nielsen says, can rank an online video next to a podcast next to an article. Unlike television or radio, the internet isn’t a medium that funnels just one format. The aim of Nielsen’s new ratings is to create a context to figure out what people care about online, regardless of what form it takes.

This is just a reminder that internet advertising is still in its infancy. It'll be interesting to see what the internet looks like in 20 years, once the big media entities switch their primary funding from TV to the web. The last two lines of the article say it all.

The old way made a lot of people in old media a lot of money. If someone can approximate the old way for new media, maybe more of that money will start rolling in, just like it used to.

October 20, 2014 Chris Hall

Domain extension options for personal branding

Domain extension options for personal branding

In my opinion, personal branding is the hardest of all the branding types. Seriously. (How many failed aliases have you tried to use in the last decade? I'm at three.). But now that the new generic top-level domains have launched, getting your real name on the left side of the dot is easier than ever. So what domain extension do you want on the other side?

Picking the right one can be tricky, and there are a number of things you should consider before making your choice. Let's break down some of your options.

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October 17, 2014 Chris Hall

An interview with Dan Tocchini, Founder and CEO of The Grid

An interview with Dan Tocchini, Founder and CEO of The Grid

The internet has come a long way since the "dawn of the blogs" in the early 90's, but as Anil Dash wrote recently, "The tools for blogging have been extraordinarily stagnant. And this stagnation is particularly egregious when we consider that almost every common behavior on the big social networks is a subset of what we originally thought blogging might be."

Forecasting the future of blogging—and website creation in general—is a tall task, but there's one upcoming platform that seems to be dreaming bigger than the rest—The Grid. So I had a chat with The Grid's founder and CEO, Dan Tocchini (who also happens to be an awesome iwantmyname customer), to find out what the new platform is all about.

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October 16, 2014 Melanie Baker

Need to know: requesting personal information from your audience

Need to know: requesting personal information from your audience

These days, data is king. Big Data, data mining, data-driven decisions. It gives the impression that when you're building your online presence, whether a community, business, or audience (or all of the above), you need to learn as much about those you interact with as possible. Especially before you engage in any important decision-making.

Knowing everything (ideally with the first impression/interaction) should give us the insights we need to develop the perfect product, grow the most engaged audience, and pretty much be our crystal ball, right? Well, not exactly.

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October 15, 2014 Chris Hall

Zoho is a bootstrapped success story we can get behind

Zoho is a bootstrapped success story we can get behind

From PandoDaily, in an article titled "Anti-burn: How bootstrapped Zoho survived two tech bubbles and became a massive success":

Silicon Valley has been up in arms of late over burn rates. With private companies raising larger rounds at higher valuations than ever before and chasing broader market opportunities than possible in the past, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are spending at an unprecedented rate to grow as fast as they can. But, despite these understandable circumstances, several of the industry’s most respected investors have raised a red flag on the issue, arguing that it’s a symptom of good times company building that could leave a ton of companies dangerously exposed when market conditions inevitably shift.

For those arguing that spending with reckless abandon is the only way to build the kind of massive, high value businesses that the venture model demands, there are counterpoints available across the Valley. One such business is Zoho, the 18-year-old enterprise software company that has bootstrapped itself to hundreds of millions in revenue, and profitability.

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October 14, 2014 Chris Hall

StartUp shares the agony of naming a company, plus my short list of naming rules


If you're a podcast listener, Alex Blumberg's new show, StartUp, just might be the best new show around. Here's the synopsis, from the StartUp about page:

I'm Alex Blumberg. My experience is in public radio, as a producer for This American Life and as a co-founder of the business-economics series Planet Money. After years of reporting on other people's businesses, I decided to start my own.

This show follows what happens next – my difficult journey from man to businessman. It's a classic start-up story, but one that's recorded in real time. I've documented disastrous pitches to investors, difficult conversations with my wife, and tense negotiations with my co-founder. The result is an honest, transparent account of something that happens all the time, but that we can rarely listen in on: starting a business.

I'd definitely recommend starting at the beginning, but the latest episode, titled "How To Name Your Company" is a fantastic look at how hard branding really is. Give it a listen.

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