(Last updated: 10-August-2010)
I’ve always thought the Tor Project (free internet anonymising service) was a worthwhile initiative. But the idea of having to run a Tor server somewhere seemed like a lot of effort. And I thought putting all my traffic through Tor would probably mean slow internet & possibly some internet services not working properly.
The Vidalia Project is a step in the right direction. You simply install the Vidalia bundle which includes Tor, install a ‘Tor button’ in your browser and – pow! – you have an ‘anonymise my internet right now’ button.
Download Vidalia: https://www.torproject.org/projects/vidalia.html.en
The ‘Tor button’ is reasonably straightforward. Note that right now the Firefox ‘enable Tor’ button extension that comes with the bundle will not work with Firefox 5. You’ll have to go get it here: https://www.torproject.org/dist/torbutton/torbutton-current.xpi
Google Chrome: There isn’t a Chrome ‘Tor button’ extension yet but the instructions for setting one up are super super easy.
It should be noted that internet is slow through Tor, and by default things like YouTube are blocked through Tor because of the personal information that can be passed through Flash. I guess the point here is you don’t really need Tor enabled for things like watching YouTube videos.
(Hat tip to Lifehacker whose What You Need to Know About the Internet Snooping Bill post first got me onto the Vidalia Project)
(Note: I only installed the Vidalia Project on Windows 7 so I can’t speak for the experience on other versions of Windows, Apple OS X & Linux/Unix)
(Last updated: 11-May-2011)
I recently completed a job application that wanted to know what websites I read & pay attention to. Here are some of the websites & web pages I provided:
John Battelle’s Searchblog – The man who wrote the book on Search. His blog on the online industry is continually sharp & thought-provoking. Battelle writes really well. I don’t always agree with what he might be saying but that is a healthy thing.
Wired – Do you ever wish there was a daily newspaper just about tech? This is probably the closest thing to it.
Search Engine Land – It is kind of an unfortunate name. But they have a number of good search marketing writers & Danny Sullivan knows search better than anyone I know of.
Google blogs – There are a lot of these so I’m just going to list them:
Conversion Rate Experts – the leaders in conversion rate optimisation. Particularly worth paying attention to for their case studies which give useful insight into their conversion optimisation process.
SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog – While some of what SEOmoz says publicly is often couched in caveats e.g. “this may mean”, “this might suggest”, the need for this is partly driven by their highly visible position in the SEO industry & the trouble with stating absolutes. Their blog is essential reading for SEO news & tactics.
NYTimes – US-centric news but it is better than, say, Fox. Their Magazine section occasionally does great long form pieces. The Critics Best Of videos are good too.
Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – Avinash is a Google Analytics Evangelist but he also seems to do things like consulting/speaking on web analytics/writing books on web analytics. He is a guru on web analytics & his blog posts over the years have been critical to educating me about Google Analytics, metrics to ignore & metrics to pay attention to.
You may have seen before those lists of quotes from so-and-so that get linked to or forwarded around.
Recently I got sent a bunch of quotes by Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO. Some of them I really liked and I wanted to share them here.
Unfortunately, I cannot say whether a: these are all verbatim or b: whether they are actually quotes from Steve Jobs at all. I can tell you the “…in the face of death” quote rings true because I’ve watched the commencement speech where he says the same thing. As for the rest of them, they feel right so hopefully they are all real quotes.
“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs
“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” – Steve Jobs in Business Week
(Spotted this on Unbounce.com today)
1. Chuck Norris doesn’t need a call to action. Action needs a call to Chuck.
2. Chuck Norris doesn’t click on banner ads – banner ads beg Chuck Norris for permission to be clicked.
3. The conversion rate on ChuckNorris.com is whatever Chuck says it is. And as a general rule, it beats the industry average by infinity.
4. When Dana White asked Chuck Norris to design a landing page for his latest Pay-Per-View campaign; Chuck took out a crayon, artfully sketched a roundhouse kick on the octagon canvas and caught the UFC president in a Rear Naked Choke… from the front… fully clothed. (True story)
5. Chuck Norris generates leads by pointing at people. If he points at you twice, you lose the right to unsubscribe and your first newborn will be named “eBook” by default.
6. Chuck Norris purposely re-designed a landing page for Vin Diesel and gave it a bounce rate of 200%.
7. At a spelling bee in 1947, a young Chuck Norris was asked to spell “optimization”. When the competition judge awoke from his Chuck-induced coma on April 21, 1993, he was swiftly roundhouse kicked in the face by Walker, Texas Ranger… Coincidence? I think not.
8. If Chuck Norris visited your landing page, you’d be f’d. Chuck is not the answer to your traffic problem. Chuck is your traffic problem.
9. When Chuck Norris says a form field is required, he @**#&#! means it. You’ll know when it’s required by the giant fist icon, Chuck has no respect for asterisks.
Source: 9 Reasons Why Chuck Norris Shouldn’t Work In Marketing
Q: “It used to be that I could limit what strangers saw about me to almost nothing. I could not show my profile picture, not allow them to “poke” or message me, certainly not allow them to view my profile page. Now, even my interests have to be public information. Why can’t I control my own information anymore?”
Answer from Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook: “Joining Facebook is a conscious choice by vast numbers of people who have stepped forward deliberately and intentionally to connect and share. We study user activity. We’ve found that a few fields of information need to be shared to facilitate the kind of experience people come to Facebook to have. That’s why we require the following fields to be public: name, profile photo (if people choose to have one), gender, connections (again, if people choose to make them), and user ID number. Facebook provides a less satisfying experience for people who choose not to post a photo or make connections with friends or interests. But, other than name and gender, nothing requires them to complete these fields or share information they do not want to share. If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”
Link: Facebook Executive Answers Reader Questions [nytimes.com]
After watching this video I still don’t completely understand how the Internet Archive funds itself.
I posted my takeaways from this year’s Webstock on the First Rate blog so I’m just going to repost the critical part of it here. Duplicate content FTW!
Here’s what I learnt online businesses need to be doing this year:
- Iterate. Listen to your customers, watch your analytics, learn what needs improving and optimise like a crazy person. The website that is most agile will win.
Don’t be late to the mobile party, be early. How does your online audience want to engage your business via mobile? Does that exist? Is there a business case for it?
Be wary of “gut feel” or “I just know” interpretations of data by your staff or your third-party providers. Expect empirical evidence that backs up that gut feel.
“If you review the first version of your site & don’t feel embarrassed, you spent too long on it” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn.com
For Barack Obama’s US presidential campaign, his online team were tracking how dollars spent on online ads were turning into dollars received via fundraising. If a campaign that complex can achieve it, no-one has an excuse for not knowing their ROI from online spend.
Jeff Attwood’s description of social software was very good: “tiny slices of frictionless effort, spread across an online community”. A good reminder that to leverage user-generated content you need your users to want to contribute and make it super-easy to do so.
I thought Daniel Burka’s recommendation that “subtraction is iteration too” was a good reminder. Don’t be afraid to subtract.
Source: Things I learnt at Webstock 2010