Bomb-A-Tron™, anyone?


It’s so true, and in fact, that site really encompasses why I don’t read the latest wire copies of bombings in Iraq. It’s the same, repetitive, uncreative copy-and-paste wording. Copy editors … the new journalists!

(For those curious, here’s my Bomb-A-Thon™ generated wire copy.)

Car Bomb Attack in Baquba kills 3

By Doug Mehus

Associated Press

Saturday, January 29, 2005; 10:34 PM

In Baquba today, explosives packed in a car detonated at a police checkpoint, killing 3 police officers and injuring 15, witnesses said.

US troops and tanks sealed off the area, which was strewn with parts of flaming wreckage and human remains.

The driver of the Toyota Land Cruiser slammed his bomb-laden car into a pickup truck that was used to block the gate leading to the police checkpoint and detonated the load of explosives, said policeman Mustafa Ibrahim.

The blast was extremely powerful, hurling the body of one of the police officers more than 75 yards, witnesses said.

“I heard the explosion, and it shattered glass everywhere,” said Faruz, a 26-year-old baker. “I saw cars burned and destroyed, fire, and body parts all over.”

U.S. officials called the attack a sign of the insurgents’ desperation.

“The fact of the matter is we’re keeping the insurgents off balance and they’re reeling backward. They’re trying to come at us and we’re giving it right back,” Brigadier General Taylor Truitt said.

“The terrorists are growing more desperate in their attempts to deprive the world of a free and peaceful Iraq and they’re trying to put it all on the line and give it all they can.”

There was no claim of responsibility for the latest Baquba attack, but it followed warnings blared from mosque speakers that Iraqis should stay away from police installations.


A little political humour: The President, First Lady, and Dick Cheney…

The President, the First Lady and Dick Cheney are flying on Air Force One.

George looks at Laura, chuckles and says, “You know, I could throw a $1,000.00 bill out the window right now and make somebody very happy.”

Laura shrugs her shoulders and says, “Well, I could throw ten $100.00 bills out the window and make 10 people very happy.”

Cheney says, “Of course then I could throw one hundred $10.00 bills out the window and make 100 people very happy.”

The pilot, who overhears their conversation, rolls his eyes and says to his co-pilot, “Such big shots back there! Hell, I could throw all three of them out the window and make 56 million people very happy.”

Martha Stewart closing online store, catalog operations

Martha Stewart closing online store, catalog operations: “Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is closing its money-losing online and catalog businesses in February, according to a notice posted on the company’s Web site.”

Wow, although not entirely unexpected. After Ms. Stewart’s unjust and heavy-handed conviction for lying to investigators about a stock sale of ImClone Systems, Inc., even though she was never charged with insider trading and charges of the more serious securities fraud were thrown out by the judge, many analysts had predicted her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., would fold completely. I was more optimistic — and remain so. I believe they are simply closing unprofitable, money-losing divisions, including its online store and its Martha By Mail mail-order catalog service. And, so they should. It’s a smart move. They’re still keeping the online flower ordering service, Martha Stewart Living glossy magazine, the lucrative retail relationships with Kmart and Sears Canada, and their TV production business.

It’s also worth mentioning that former ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne was named President & CEO of MSO late last year, approximately eight months after ABC parent Walt Disney Company unceremoniously fired her, along with ABC Chair & CEO Lloyd Braun in the spring. Together, the Lyne and Braun pairing also spearheaded the development of now mega-hits “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” but the executives at the Mouse House apparently had itchy fingers and couldn’t wait until the fall. For his part, Lloyd Braun was rewarded when Internet giant Yahoo! Inc. hired him as its Head of its Media & Entertainment corporate division. He oversees such properties as Yahoo! Games, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Launch, Yahoo! News, and presumably, Yahoo!’s Musicmatch, Inc., subsidiary.

Trans Canada Credit becomes Wells Fargo Financial Canada

Wells Fargo Brand Expanding in Canada: “Trans Canada Credit Corporation, the consumer finance business that has served Canadians for more than 60 years, announced today it has changed its name effective Jan. 1 to Wells Fargo Financial Corporation Canada. The company remains a Canadian-based and Canadian-managed business, with headquarters in Mississauga.”

That is according to the news release issued January 4th, 2005, by parent company Wells Fargo & Company, the legendary banking brand that is deep rooted in American history and culture with its brand going back to 1852. According to the release, Wells Fargo Financial acquired Trans Canada Credit in November 1992 and operated it under that name until today. So essentially, Wells Fargo Financial Canada is a subsidiary of Wells Fargo Financial, the wholly-owned personal and commercial lending and financing arm of the publicly-traded Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC).

Interesting stuff.

Thoughts on Honey, we shrunk the Google

Google Blog: Honey, we shrunk the Google

So, Web portal operator Google launched its newest product, the Google Mini, which indexes and sifts through up to 50,000 files, to complement its Google Search Appliance, which searches 100,000 or more documents in a corporate intranet environment. Google says it aims to target small and medium businesses with cash-starved budgets by selling the Google Mini at only $4,995. Although, personally speaking, I feel that $5,000 is still a huge price (even though the Google Search Appliance sells for $30,000 or more) for a small company to spend on a piece of intranet hardware for finding documents. Google is really targeting medium-sized businesses with this offering.

Google Mini Product Manager Rajen Sheth says, in the posting on the Google Blog linked above, that: “Customers are happier (and more likely to buy something) when they can quickly find the right information on a website. Employees are more productive when they actually find what they need on their networks.” That’s very true and medium- and large-sized businesses will be well-served by a search appliance such as the Google Mini or GSA. However, Google’s share of the enterprise search market is miniscule, with less than 1% of Google’s multi-billion dollar annual revenues (about $50 million) attributed to sales of its search appliance for corporations and universities. Does it really stand a chance at catching Fast Search and Transfer and Verity, the number two and one ranked players in enterprise search, in this market?

Six Apart buys LiveJournal and its parent, Danga Interactive

Six Apart, TypePad Buy Danga Interactive: “San Francisco-based Six Apart, developer of the popular Movable Type software and a blogging service called TypePad, is buying Portland, Ore.-based Danga Interactive Inc., which operates LiveJournal, a youthful blogging community.”

That’s what Associated Press business and technology writer Michael Liedtke writes in his latest article for the world’s largest wire news service. The news began percolating in the blogosphere even before the biggest news in the blogging world since Google bought Blogger was announced. Brad Fitzpatrick, the founder, president, and CEO of Danga Interactive, Inc., wrote that not all that much is changing, LiveJournal will remain forever, a scalable implementation of TrackBack will be implemented into the LiveJournal code base, and because Six Apart is known for prettiness, new themes (or layouts) will be coming to LiveJournal. Fitzpatrick goes on to write, in response to a question, “Why is Danga selling LiveJournal?”

“I love technology and designing the LiveJournal architecture but I hate running a business. While I’ve been learning a lot of business stuff over the past 5 years and it’s been kinda interesting, I just don’t love it and I’m not great at it. Plus it just keeps getting harder as LiveJournal grows, sucking away more of my time and youth. I’m ready to pass off what I see as “the boring stuff” to somebody else that I trust and focus on the fun stuff.

“Also, Six Apart has a lot of staff that we don’t… marketing, designers, usability people, etc. It’s been frustrating the past few years knowing that in a number of ways LiveJournal is technically the best but because we weren’t the prettiest and didn’t give good quote, we were often overlooked. I want that to change … we’ll continue to focus on technology and they’ll help us make our stuff pretty and usable. They want LiveJournal to stay LiveJournal and that’s why I picked Six Apart.”

What will change, for starters, is the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy will be made to agree with what Six Apart lawyers want. He also said that the LiveJournal technology will remain separate and continue to be developed, which isn’t a good idea in my opinion. While LiveJournal has more features and is much more scalable, it lacks good features like true permalinks, true trackbacks, and superior comment/post editing capabilities. I wish they’d create a modified installation of MovableType and use it on LiveJournal as a sort of technology experiment to promote its paid and professionally-supported versions.

When asked if LiveJournal would remain open source, Fitzpatrick hedged and said infrastructure components such as “memcached” and “BML” would as will the existing LiveJournal code base. He made no committment that future versions of LiveJournal would be open source.

I think it’s primarily a good move for both companies. Six Apart needed a free social networking, community-building, and blogging product which it could use to promote its subscription-based and professional offerings — even if LiveJournal is an entirely different architecture and platform. It still allows for some cross-branding and marketing opportunities, akin to that of discount ISP operator United Online, Inc., which owns NetZero, Juno, and BlueLight Internet, buying Renton, Wash.-based, Inc. in December and Orem, Utah-based About Web Services, which owns popular free Web hosting sites FreeServers and 50megs among other properties, in April of last year. United Online has used those buys for placing prominent NetZero and United Online branding on their respecting home pages. I predict that’s (part of) how Six Apart plans to use LiveJournal.

Pitfalls of Geotargeting

Articles from advertising industry online trade publications like ClickZ Network describe the benefits of geotargeting, that is targeting ads to user based on their location. To do this, the geolocation technology, as it’s called frequently by those in the business, primarily uses the user’s IP address, looks up the country of the IP address in a central database, and then serves ads targeted by location. Thus, you get the term “geotargeting”.

Well, as you can clearly see by the image above, when you have a country like Canada with two official languages, geotargeting doesn’t work so well. The geolocation technology at DoubleClick, who served that ad, must’ve thought it was genius serving a French language ad on an English language Web site because French people live in Canada. There is the problem. French people primarily live in the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick. Since IP address location is determined by the Internet service provider to which it was allocated, and since most ISPs in Canada operate nationally, there is no way of (easily) targeting an ad to a specific province in Canada so you end up with funny incongruities such as this.