Tuesday, May 27, 2008

427

A couple of weeks ago -- on May 9, 2008, to be precise -- I had 427 visitors to my blog. This was unprecedented traffic and the highest single day visitor total I've had in all the years I've maintained a website.

Of course, compared to some blogs, like Scalzi's The Whatever, this is a paltry number that he exceeds probably every hour. But in the context of my blog, it was a lot.

At first, I was bewildered by the traffic. While I had published a short rant the night before about the disappointing Scrubs finale, it was a pretty thin post, without much to offer the interested visitor. And then I looked at Google Analytics and saw that nearly all the traffic I received on May 9 came from Google, via various keyword combinations of "scrubs" and "finale". Because I'd titled the May 8 post "Scrubs Finale?" and published right after I watched the episode, I got indexed and caught a lot of traffic from disgruntled Scrubs fans looking to vent about how hard the season finale sucked.

It was an interesting lesson in the power of key phrases and search engines.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Degrading Expandable Blog Posts in Blogger for Clients with JavaScript Disabled

Previously I discussed enabling expandable blog posts in Blogger through a template customization. While I liked the modification a great deal, I wanted to modify the output on clients with JavaScript disabled, where the tweak displays a link to the full post for every home page item.

After some meddling with the original code from http://bloggermagz.blogspot.com/, I adjusted the modification so that when JavaScript is disabled, the blog front page displays as it would without the tweak -- with complete posts and no links to full posts.

This seemed like the best option with the Blogger environment and still provided full usability for JavaScript-disabled clients.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Expandable Blog Posts in Blogger

Update - Blogger had released functionality that does this. See You Might As Well Jump! from Blogger Buzz.

Following an email exchange with Ranting Nerd, I decided to add expandable posts to this blog that allow a summary lead-in on the main page (instead of the whole post) and a link to the the rest of the post on a separate page. See the "Seinfeld" and "How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill" summaries and full-post links below to view this functionality.

For anyone using Blogger, I'd recommend the Expandable Post template customization from http://bloggermagz.blogspot.com/ to setup this feature. This is the best approach I've come across and provides flexibility for adjusting the summary for only those posts you want to manipulate. The only caveat is that the tweak uses JavaScript, and will display a link to the full post for every home page item in browsers in which JavaScript is disabled. I'm thinking of adjusting the JavaScript to render the output differently when JavaScript is disabled.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seinfeld

Ten years ago, on May 14, 1998, the last episode of Seinfeld aired. Can you believe it's been that long already?

In honor of the show on this date, I've dug up some old Seinfeld trivia questions that used to live in a survey on one of my old websites that (like Seinfeld itself) has since passed on.

Enjoy.

Seinfeld Questions

( scroll down for the answers)

1. What is George's middle name?

[ ] Buck
[ ] Louis
[ ] Paco
[ ] Stephenson

2. On which television show did Kramer appear?

[ ] The Tonight Show
[ ] The Bold and the Beautiful
[ ] Cheers
[ ] Murphy Brown

3. What is Elaine's favorite baseball team?

[ ] The Mets
[ ] The Orioles
[ ] The Yankees
[ ] The Mud Hens

4. Who won "the contest"?

[ ] Elaine
[ ] George
[ ] Jerry
[ ] Kramer

5. Is Joe DiMaggio a dunker?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

6. What was the name of the Bizarro Kramer?

[ ] Feldman
[ ] Michael
[ ] Ernie
[ ] Ice

7. From what type of macaroni did Kramer make a miniature figurine of Jerry?

[ ] Rigatoni
[ ] Fusilli
[ ] Ziti
[ ] Vermicelli

8. What was the name of the Calvin Klein cologne that was stolen from Kramer's idea?

[ ] Rugged Masculinity
[ ] Sand
[ ] C Kramer 1
[ ] The Beach

9. Based on what television show theme song did George create a singing answering machine message?

[ ] Three's Company
[ ] Cheers
[ ] The Greatest American Hero
[ ] Family Ties

10. What was the name of the woman who broke up with Kramer because she thought he was a "hipster doofus"?

[ ] Vivian
[ ] Marcy
[ ] Lola
[ ] Sheila

11. What is Kramer's first name?
[ ] Cosmo
[ ] Michael
[ ] Richard
[ ] Frank

12. What is the woman's name that Jerry can't remember that rhymes with a part of the female anatomy"?

[ ] Celeste
[ ] Dolores
[ ] Mulva
[ ] Viginia

13. George once bought a car because he thought the previous owner was which famous actor?

[ ] Liam Nissan
[ ] John Lovitz
[ ] Jason Alexander
[ ] Jon Voight

14. What did crazy Joe Devollo yell during the taping of the "Jerry" pilot?

[ ] "Dulce Et Decorum Est"
[ ] "Jerry"
[ ] "Sic Semper Tyrannis"
[ ] "En Vino Veritas"

15. Whose talk show did did Kramer recreate in his apartment?

[ ] Oprah's
[ ] Jerry Springer's
[ ] Phil Donahue's
[ ] Merv Griffin's

16. Who is Jerry's favorite superhero?

[ ] The Flash
[ ] Superman
[ ] Aquaman
[ ] Spiderman

17. Which of the following movies was NOT parodied on Seinfeld?

[ ] Batman
[ ] Schindler's List
[ ] Midnight Cowboy
[ ] JFK

18. What type of food did George eat out of the garbage?

[ ] An ├ęclair
[ ] A hamburger
[ ] A donut
[ ] An apple

19. Which of the following was one of Putty's professions?

[ ] A Bible Salesman
[ ] A DJ
[ ] A Hockey Player
[ ] A Plumber

20. Which of the following baseball players did not NOT appear on Seinfeld?

[ ] Paul O'Neill
[ ] Danny Tartabull
[ ] Don Mattingly
[ ] Keith Hernandez

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Answers

1. What is George's middle name?

George's middle name is Louis.

2. On which television show did Kramer appear?

It was Murphy Brown.

3. What is Elaine's favorite baseball team?

Elaine's favorite baseball team is the Orioles.

4. Who won "the contest"?

Though George seemingly won the contest from that episode, he later admitted (on the final episode) that he in fact cheated. Thus, the winner was Jerry.

5. Is Joe DiMaggio a dunker?

Joe was a dunker.

6. What was the name of the Bizarro Kramer?

It was Feldman.

7. From what type of macaroni did Kramer make a miniature figurine of Jerry?

It was fusilli.

8. What was the name of the Calvin Klein cologne that was stolen from Kramer's idea?

It was The Beach.

9. Based on what television show theme song did George create a singing answering machine message?

It was The Greatest American Hero.

10. What was the name of the woman who broke up with Kramer because she thought he was a "hipster doofus"?

It was Lola.

11. What is Kramer's first name?

Kramer's first name is Cosmo.

12. What is the woman's name that Jerry can't remember that rhymes with a part of the female anatomy"?

It was Dolores.

13. George once bought a car because he thought the previous owner was which famous actor?

It was Jon Voight.

14. What did crazy Joe Devollo yell during the taping of the "Jerry" pilot?

He yelled "Sic Semper Tyrannis".

15. Whose talk show did did Kramer recreate in his apartment?

Kramer recreated The Merv Griffin Show.

16. Who is Jerry's favorite superhero?

It's Superman (of course).

17. Which of the following movies was NOT parodied on Seinfeld?

The Godfather was never parodied on Seinfeld.

18. What type of food did George eat out of the garbage?

An ├ęclair.

19. Which of the following was one of Putty's professions?

He was a plumber.

20. Which of the following baseball players did not NOT appear on Seinfeld?

Don Mattingly never appeared on Seinfeld.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill

Surely, the concept of How Starbucks Saved My Life is genius. White collar ad executive is downsized by the company he's worked for his entire professional life, finds humility, and takes an entry-level job at Starbucks. It's almost enough to make you think the book was written by a seasoned advertising professional. Oh, wait, it was.

Surface cynicism aside, author Michael Gates Gill and the story he recounts are very likable. It is at once compelling and startling that someone with the author's professional background and industry contacts would ever reach the point of working a menial job in the service industry. Just as surprising is that a young, hard-working Starbucks store manager would take a chance and hire him.

The book remains interesting when the deal is struck, and Gill joins Starbucks. It is at this point that we learn that there are no Starbucks co-workers, only "partners", and that fellow employees at Starbucks really do treat each in such a respectful manner. We also follow Gill as he works his way through various coffeehouse tasks, from cleaning bathrooms, to working the register, to manning the barista bar. Gill recounts the unusual and generous Starbucks benefits package that provides medical insurance to full and part time employees and that offers tuition reimbursement.

Truth be told, at times while taking in the sheer earnestness of the text, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of disbelief, remembering that the author worked in advertising for decades and would be naturally skilled at crafting a story with just the right message and positioning. Still, at the end, I took the author at his word: that there is dignity in honest labor and mutual respect.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Looking to Work in Sweden, Denmark, or Norway?

Here's an interesting article (from The Economist) about the difficulties Nordic nations are experiencing attracting and retaining foreign workers. Here's a portion of the article:
Unemployment in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway is well below the EU average, and employers are complaining of labor shortages and wage inflation. Sweden is pondering a proposal that will nearly guarantee two-year residence and employment permits to any non-EU worker with a job offer from a Swedish employer; workers would be able to extend the permits for another two years and would qualify for permanent status afterwards. Norway has cut the amount of time it takes to have paper processed for foreign workers. Whereas before it took weeks, foreigners can now start work as soon as they have properly filed their applications. Denmark has proposed a points-based green card system to draw engineers, IT experts, and other needed skilled employees. All three countries have had difficulty attracting even their quota of skilled foreign workers, as has neighboring Finland, which in seeming desperation has put out a promotional video to attract skilled workers, available in English, Polish, and Romanian, which touts the country's benefits, including "managers who treat workers almost like friends."

Source: The Economist, (04/11/08) Vol. 387, No. 8574, P. 56
So, if you've ever wanted to live and work in Sweden, Denmark, or Norway, now's probably an ideal time.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Scrubs Finale?

I sure hope the episode that aired tonight -- "My Princess" -- was only the season and not the series finale of Scrubs.

If so, it was a bad way to go. First, the episode was out of sequence with the rest of the season 7 episodes and it was definitely a concept effort and not an episode that wrapped up the show or captured the essence of what's made Scrubs great these past seven years.

I wasn't feeling it and hope we get a proper Scrubs send-off.

Related:

My Scrubs Finale

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin

I picked up All Marketers Are Liars after reading a blog review at Steven Clark's blog.

This is probably the first time I actively sought out and bought a marketing book, and at the risk of losing whatever tech cred I've built up, I have to say I enjoyed the text and Godin's smooth, conversational style. The conceit of the text is that a core driver of good marketing is the craft of telling authentic stories.

Godin hits a number of examples, including Baby Einstein, organic food, and Pumas.

I would have liked to have more quantitative and qualitative data to go along with the anecdotal evidence Godin provides, but this really isn't that kind of research exercise.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

A few months ago my wife read Eat, Pray, Love, and, after finishing it in what seemed like a single sitting, suggested I read it.

I recently did and am glad she made the suggestion. Eat, Pray, Love is a chronicle of the author's year of personal exploration across Italy, India and Indonesia, as she struggles to find herself after a painful, drawn-out divorce. My immediate impressions were that it was a very honest, personal book, in which the author was transparent throughout about her journey, missteps, and ultimate self-discovery.