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Archive for October, 2007

I Survived My First Bay Area Earthquake

October 31, 2007 Leave a comment

And I didn’t even get a lousy tshirt.

So frigging lame, I didn’t even feel the damn thing even though it struck at 5.6 10 miles north of San Jose. I was in the gym at that time and the only thing going through my mind was how severely weak I’ve gotten in the past three months.

Narcissistic behavior can make you ignore tremors, too. In addition to turning you into a meathead!

Four years in the Valley and I spent my first real earthquake hanging out with sweaty men. Nice.

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Categories: life, silicon valley

On Web Analytics and QuantCast

October 29, 2007 1 comment

Anyone who has had close involvement with a website that gets significant traffic probably knows two universal truths – first, analytical data and business intelligence about the usage of your website is worth its weight in gold; second, said data is a huge bitch to get to.

Since I’m lucky enough to be the primary PM involved around http://www.righthealth.com, a top 5-6 online health destination, I’ve learned both of these truths along the way.

It was really interesting, then, to run into this NYTimes article that documents the simple yet troubling issue around the most basic web analytics construct – the number of visitors coming to a particular site. Site logs and the metrics systems that run atop them usually report numbers that are wildly out of line with what ComScore, Compete, QuantCast and Hitwise have to report (I don’t include Alexa in this list because it doesn’t explicitly show # of uniques AFAIK). This mondo discrepancy, of course, is being blamed for advertisers’ continued reluctance to moving more dollars online.

The essential problem with ComScore and Hitwise is that those guys dont have a goddamn clue about the real number of visits; they are effectively guesstimating that number from panel-based data as well as from data purchased from ISPs.

Well, enter Quantcast. I’ve been a fan of these guys for a really long time but have only recently been able to recognize their potential.

Below is a screenshot of Quantcast’s report for RightHealth. The charts are pretty and all that but suffice it to say that the data isn’t quite right and doesn’t line up with what we know. But wait! Since these guys can actually embed themselves into your site with a little piece of JS, they effectively become the middleman, the OEM stats provider between you and an advertiser wanting to blow some cash.

Now, here are some interesting questions that I haven’t gotten a handle on yet:

  • Why won’t Compete do the same damn thing and take away this advantage from Quantcast? Seems like a no-brainer, no? I won’t speak to whose algorithms or technology is better since I simply don’t know.
  •  I’ve seen comScore reports; while they have some data that QuantCast doesn’t yet provide, QC is fairly advanced in what analysis they provide. Is QC a disruption to comScore and Nielsen’s business?
  • What about Google Analytics? GA provides brain-dead integration for small and large publishers and a pretty cool (albeit slow as a dog) GUI for analyzing the mountain of data that any large site collects. Why doesn’t Google turn this pretty cool product into QuantCast and allow publishers to “share” whatever data they choose with advertisers? Is it because there are too many hooks in GA that a publisher can exploit to make the data look richer than it actually is?

If anyone has the answers or additional thoughts, holler at me!
quant.jpg

Categories: quantcast, tech

Ahhnold – Watch Out, The Indos Are Also In Reckoning

October 22, 2007 Leave a comment

What do you know? If you thought that all Indos were good at was the stereotypical Eng-Nerdery and the even more stereotypical physician route, you’d be wrong. Way, way, wrong.

In the land of David Duke and old-school Ku Klux Klan activity – Louisiana, of all places – an Indian has become governor of the poor, hurricane-riddled state. See NYTimes story here.

God Bless America.

Now – to call a spade a spade, the guy does sound like a total nut job with a penchant for intelligent design. But maybe that’s what you need to win in Louisiana, no? Sorry that sounded very California elite – so sue me :).

Categories: Uncategorized

Oh Lord the Apple iPhone SDK is here. Well almost.

October 18, 2007 Leave a comment

Did I mention to yall that I have an iPhone? Not sure if I raved like a little teenage girl about how I arrived late – yet happily – to the iPhone party, but I did. I have one. I love it. I don’t give a shit about corporate email or the fact that the calendar is worthless or the fact the speakerphone stinks or that the phone really isn’t such a good, well, phone. It is worth it. It is sooo well worth it.

Anyhow, thank god the SDK is here! Think its going to be as crazy as the launch of the Facebook platform? What about an iPhone fund? Now there’s a sign that the VCs are really turning into goats that just love to get herded around.

Categories: apple, iphone

Sehbali Cafe – Wireless for People. In Palo Alto. Nuff Said

October 15, 2007 1 comment

Update: It’s all over, kids. This place is shutting down, soon to be replaced, I’m sure by one of the following:

  • trendy furniture store that charges 400 dollars for a chair that looks like it was built in Sweden in the 70s.
  • restaurant that charges 15 bucks for an entree

Despite Palo Alto’s vaunted claims to tech supremacy in Silicon Valley, anyone who has walked down University Ave with a laptop knows that finding wireless access is a *huge* pain in the ass.

Starbucks, in all their wisdom, still charges thirty bucks a month for shitty T-Mobile access. Coupa Cafe is so overrun with Macbook-toting yuppies like myself that they unplug their router over the weekend! Then there’s Peets Coffee – crappy coffee combined with no wireless. Yay! Finally, don’t forget about Neotte tea bar – one of those pretentious places that would go out of business anywhere except for in Palo Alto. In good ol’ Palo Alto, however, people flock to the New Age nonsense joint and sip six dollar teas that are supposedly from China but taste distinctively like they were plucked in Bakersfield, CA. Nice. Oh yeah, and the wireless is spotty as all hell.

It was a great pleasure, then, to discover Sehbali Cafe today on the corner of Ramona and University Ave. This is the best-kept secret on this street; plentiful seating, a quiet atmosphere ideal for work and blazing-fast WiFi. Woohoo! Score, baby.

The obvious reason no one knows about this place is because the same parcel of land is used for a coffee shop, a hookah shop AND a florist. I’m sure the guy who runs it has a Harvard MBA; what else could explain such synergistic endeavors and such diverse core competencies!?

Anyhow, check Sehbali out; you wont be disappointed.

Categories: reviews Tags: , ,

Fast Food Nation: Movie Review

October 12, 2007 2 comments

Alternative Title: Why I Quit Eating Fast Food.

I just got through this on HBO. If you arent someone who handles meat on a regular basis (I went to a barbeque two weeks ago where the host was arm deep in a pig’s shoulder; he is going to be fine after watching this film), be prepared to get your stomach churning in the last ten minutes.

The last ten minutes of this movie – spent in the heart of a meat processing plant and chronicling the ugly process from the slaughter of cows all the way to the handling of the carcass – will make you want to throw up.

The first 90 minutes of the movie are entertaining watching but slow going. All in all, you are probably better off reading the book. Eric Schlosser is a fine writer and “Reefer Madness” – his follow-on work is excellent.

Skip this one unless you intend to turn vegetarian.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Saumil’s Guide to CorporateSpeak: Internalize

October 12, 2007 1 comment

I heard this one for the first time in 2005. Aaah, those days. I was a little bitty fresh-faced Stanford grad, a boundless optimist who was unofficially known as “Miss Congeniality” for boundless, naive, annoying optmism.

I was in a conference room with a bunch of engineers when the presenter walked into the room and requested for us to “internalize” the information that was about to be presented. My first thought- huh? WTF?

But on to the business at hand:

Internalize: Verb

Definition: Create an intense memory burn of the corporate presentation at hand. Commit to heart and soul. To internalize is not just to understand but to, well, internalize. For example, a CEO may say to her engineers, “Do you engineers remember your first kiss? Do you remember how intense the experience was? Of course you do – you waited 23 years for it! Anyhow, I want you to internalize this product roadmap like you’ve internalized that memory.”

An internalization is usually followed by a follow-on email that requests further commitment. Most corporate internalizations are known to last about three days.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,